The Pentagon may put even more troops on heightened alert in case of a Russian incursion into Ukraine, a spokesman said Tuesday, above and beyond the roughly 8,500 troops it announced on Monday.
The services began Monday notifying an initial group of units to tighten their recall times in case of a deployment. They might be just the first group, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.
“I’m not going to rule out the possibility that there will be more such direction given to additional units at home, or even abroad, in terms of their readiness posture,” Kirby said.
As notifications are ongoing, Kirby said, the specific units on alert aren’t ready to be identified.
Some units moving from a 10-day timeline to five days, he offered as an example, adding that currently there aren’t any units preparing to move more quickly than in five days.
Kirby’s statements came even as Ukrainian leaders downplayed the immediacy of a Russian attack.
The Defense Department, however, is preparing for such an event. It announced Monday that the majority of those thousands of troops would deploy in support of the NATO Response Force, a multinational group of 40,000 troops.
Some could deploy unilaterally, Kirby reiterated Tuesday, to partner countries in Eastern Europe.
“I will see if we can get you a better, more specific figure,” he said.
All of the heightened alert units are based in the U.S., though they could change if the number grows beyond the originally 8,500 figure.
The 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, for example, is a designated response force that could be called on for deployment to Ukraine.
Air Force assets would be needed for transport, in addition to various logistics, medical, surveillance and reconnaissance units.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.