Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered 3,000 more soldiers from the 82nd Airborne to deploy to Poland amid rising concern about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior defense official. The troops will leave in the next couple of days, joining about 1,700 members of the unit already there.
The soldiers will fall under the command of Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who was the commander of forces during the final evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Three hundred members of the 18th Airborne Corps have also arrived in Germany, the official said. They are under the command of Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, slated to be the next commander of US Central Command.
This group of 5,000 troops will “reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank, train with host-nation forces, and contribute to a wide range of contingencies,” the official said.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that the White House has approved a plan for members of the 82nd Airborne in Poland to help Americans who may try to leave Ukraine. The troops will begin setting up processing areas and temporary shelters.