Most troops deployed for Ukraine’s response are still in Europe

About 20,000 American troops were mobilized across central and eastern Europe in the first months of this year, first in anticipation of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and then in response to it.

Most of these troops are still stationed in partner nations, training with local troops and also assuring NATO nations that the United States will respond if Russia takes the fight beyond Ukraine.

“So at the moment the intention is to keep troop levels at the same level as they have been,” a senior military official told the Military Times on Monday during a background briefing. “We have no announcements to make regarding any changes to this in the near term.”

A small number of those initially mobilized have since redeployed, according to the latest figures.

The remaining members of the 300-soldier XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters deployment returned from Germany over the weekend, the unit said Monday.

Eighty-five of them spent a full nine months outfitting Task Force Dragon in Wiesbaden, according to the latest tally from U.S. European Command.

Elsewhere, deployments of Army AH-64 Apaches, Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets, Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs and Navy EA-18G Growlers have all returned. at their home.

But the vast majority of troops are still in Europe, with some of them rotating back home with new units replacing them.

Here is an updated list of activated troops, as of Monday:

  • About 125 troops from the V Corps main command post in Poland.
  • Approximately 1,000 troops from 1st Infantry Division Headquarters, 1st Infantry Division Artillery and enablers in Poland and Latvia.
  • About 3,200 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division in Poland, as well as from the Baltic and Black Sea regions.
  • Approximately 3,200 soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in Poland.
  • Elements of the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Poland and Slovakia.
  • US Army Europe and Africa battle groups are deployed in Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria in support of NATO.
  • 12 F-22 Raptors and associated personnel from the 90th Fighter Squadron at Lask Air Base, Poland.
  • The Bush Carrier Strike Group is deployed in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Pentagon said units mobilized this year have generally undergone joint training with allies, but details on day-to-day deployments are sparse because the Pentagon has generally prohibited media integration with units.

Troops helped hand over weapons and equipment to Ukrainian forces and train Ukrainians outside Ukraine on new weapons, as well as supporting American citizens who fled Ukraine via Poland in start of the invasion.

Although the Pentagon has not detailed what the future of force posture in Europe is, other than that the number of troops currently activated is expected to remain stable, senior military officials have reported more than one times that a larger presence in Europe was in order.

“That’s got to change,” retired Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, then head of EUCOM, told lawmakers in March. “And certainly, this is an opportunity, following this senseless act on the part of Russia, to re-examine the permanent military architecture that exists not only in Eastern Europe, but in our policing activity in the in the sky, in the air force and in our permanent maritime groups.”

This may not seem to be the case in the past.

Officials have suggested pushing more rotational deployments on the continent, rather than maintaining large bases with schools and facilities for accompanying families, as was done for much of the 20th century.

“My advice would be to make permanent bases, but don’t station permanently,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in April. “So you get the effect of permanence by rotational forces running through permanent bases.”

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at the Military Times. It covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership, and other issues affecting service members.