The U.S. Army is planning to build more sets of equipment in Europe, including tanks, weapons and basic supplies, that would allow U.S. brigades to deploy quickly in case of an emergency mission to help regional allies, Defense News reported Sunday. The planned construction of the equipment caches, also known as activities sets, was a result of continuing tensions between NATO allies in Europe and Russia over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Eastern Ukraine.
Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula in March 2014, causing NATO and its allies to condemn Russian action in the region, saying it violated international law. Following the annexation, fighting broke out between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine military in the eastern territories of Luhansk and Donbas. The U.S., along with several European allies, including the United Kingdom, has helped train Ukrainian military personnel since the conflict began following Crimea's annexation.
The announcement came just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter delivered a scathing address Wednesday at a U.S. Army convention. Speaking on Russian involvement in Syria and Ukraine, Carter said in part, “we will take all necessary steps to deter Russia’s malign and destabilizing influence, coercion and aggression.”
Tensions between Russia and the U.S. have been raising since Russia began airstrikes in Syria in late September. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the strikes were targeting Islamic State militant groups, though many in the region, including the U.S., have said Russian strikes have attacked other rebel groups.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 18, 2015
Amid ongoing strain between Russia and the U.S. in Syria and Ukraine, military officials said that they would prepare caches throughout Europe, in order to be ready for any situation.
Additional equipment caches will be used as a way to ensure readiness in case of a deployment in Europe, including a brigade combat team with 1200 items that would be up to "full mission capacity," according to Gen. Dennis Via, who spoke to Defense News. Via said U.S. activity in Europe would be limited to 30,000 soldiers.