The U.S military is in the planning stages of sending an armored convoy of Stryker vehicles 1100 miles through Europe to show support for its NATO allies in the wake of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.
As reported by CNN, the military's convoy will take troops from training exercises in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland through Latvia and the Czech Republic, and end their journey in Vilseck, Germany. The Strykers are being sent back to their home base after months of U.S. and allied troop training in the Baltics and Poland, yet the method for returning the 18 ton vehicles is quite a departure from the norm.
Armored vehicles, like the US Strykers, are normally sent by rail back to home base after training sessions. This time, the convoy will travel the miles to Vilseck in person so that troops can meet locals in their communities, learn about cultural diversity, and use the opportunity to build trust among the allied nations in an effort to strengthen ties with other NATO militaries.
Lt. Col. Craig Childs, a U.S. military spokesman issued a statement affirming that the trip offers an opportunity for the troops to test their leadership and unit maintenance capabilities while "simultaneously providing a highly visible demonstration of U.S. commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO's ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation."
For months US military and NATO troops have been conducting training sessions within Eastern Europe under Operation Atlantic Resolve, in light of Russian-supported aggression towards Ukraine and Crimea. The Defense Department defines the operation as:
"designed to reassure allies, demonstrate freedom of movement and deter regional aggression on the eastern flank of NATO. The mission began in response to Russia's armed support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea a year ago."The mission is aimed directly at quelling fears of Russian aggression over taking eastern Europe. Russia has stepped up flights outside of its airspace, and as reported by The Inquisitr, the number of times allied jets have been alerted to intercept Russian jets and bombers in 2014 were greater than post-Cold War era.
U.S. military news site Stars And Stripes first reported on the high profile convoy March 12. The road march, nicknamed the "Dragoon Ride" after its unit, will also be flanked by the Army's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade for aerial reconnaissance support.
To boost military might among the training areas, hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles will be delivered on Monday to a base in Latvia and will then be dispersed among training grounds in the Baltics, Poland, and Germany. Additional troops will also be sent to relieve the current units, with the new rotation expected to last until June.
The date of the U.S. Military convoy's departure has not been released.
[Image courtesy of United States European Command]