The U.S. Army intends to add at least 100 fighting vehicles to Europe by the end of next year, the commander of U.S. Army Europe told reporters on Monday.

"We are looking at courses of action for how we could pre-position equipment that we would definitely want to put inside a facility where it would be better maintained, that rotational units could then come and draw on it and use it to train – or for contingency purposes," said Army Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges at the news briefing.

After Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine and then moved troops into Eastern Ukraine, the U.S. launched Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing training mission to Poland and the Baltic countries. Atlantic Resolve serves to reassure Eastern European NATO members that the alliance will defend them.The mission is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, Hodges said.

On Monday, Hodges visited a training site in Lithuania to see if it could be used to house armored vehicles, such as tanks, he said. He will also look at potential sites in Estonia and Poland, and he has already looked at training areas in Romania and Bulgaria.

Currently, the Army has an armored battalion in Germany, and now it is looking to add two additional battalions, possibly in Eastern Europe, Hodges said. U.S. Army Europe will recommend to U.S. European Command where to position an armored company or battalion.

A heavy company typically has about 100 soldiers and roughly 14 armored vehicles, including M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

"Most common actually is that they would be a mix, where you would have maybe eight tanks and four or five Bradley vehicles in it," Hodges said, "In terms of size, that's what I would be thinking about in Lithuania or Estonia or Latvia, would be a company of those kind of vehicles that would be here so a unit could fall in on it. But it may turn out that we want to have the whole battalion in one place centrally located and it would then move around. So now you're talking about closer to about 46, 48 armored vehicles plus support vehicles."

Hodges believes existing infrastructure in Eastern European NATO countries could be used for the additional armored vehicles.

"Certainly, I don't see a need to build infrastructure – a FOB if you will – or anything like that, that would be used for U.S. forces," he said. "I do see a great opportunity now to improve the training facilities to help modernize host nation training facilities. We want to invest in improving the playing field, not the grandstand – the bleachers. Investments are going to be on the training facilities and not into barracks and dining facilities and that sort of thing."

In addition to its moves against Ukraine, Russia has taken provocative actions against Estonia and Lithuania, Hodges said. Russia's goal is to drive a wedge between the U.S. and NATO and sew divisions among NATO members. However, Hodges does not believe that Russia is itching for a fight with U.S. troops.

"I don't think that Russia has any intention of some sort of a conventional attack into NATO territory because they know that would generate an Article 5 response by the rest of the alliance," Hodges said. "So it's not in their interest to do that. I think that what they do want to do is to create that ambiguity, plant the seeds of uncertainty so that the alliance members lose confidence that the rest of the alliance would come to their aid if they were, in fact, attacked."

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