The next land-force training rotation of Operation Atlantic Resolve is preparing to get underway in the Baltics. The equipment and armored vehicles of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division arrived in Riga, Latvia on 9 March. 1/3rd ID will assume the duties of the land-force component from the 3rd Squadron/2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is returning to its base in Germany later this month. Next week, the 1st Brigade’s soldiers will begin arriving in the Baltics and marry up to their equipment. The brigade will be in Europe for a 90 day rotation.
On the heels of this, came the announcement yesterday that the US will provide $75 million worth of non-lethal equipment to Ukraine. Humvees, drones, communications equipment and medical supplies are some of the items that will be shipped east. It would appear, at first glance, that this move is going to negate the US training mission to the Ukraine. A battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade had been slated to deploy to the western Ukraine and conduct training with Ukrainian forces. With the fighting in the eastern Ukraine diminished to its lowest levels in months, the ceasefire agreement seems to have taken hold. While the guns remain silent it is likely that the US will not make any moves that could threaten the tenuous ceasefire. So for now, US assistance will be limited to equipment. That could change at any time, though.
Atlantic Resolve is now entering its second year and as it does, the mission might be expanding. USAREUR has suggested that over the summer, US forces could expand their presence to Hungary, the Czech Republic and even as far southeast as Georgia. This would divide Atlantic Resolve into north and south components and place a line of US troops on the ground from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The expansion is not without potential danger. Any US move into the Black Sea area would likely be considered provocative. Perceived encroachment by NATO and the West is viewed by Russia as the major threat to its sovereignty. Russia’s reaction to the prospect of expanded Western influence in the Ukraine following Euromaiden has already led to one bloody conflict in the region.