- Armored U.S. Army Strykers to make trek to display solidarity with U.S. allies
- 16-ton armored vehicles usually moved long distances by rail
- Move is latest NATO military display after Russian actions in Ukraine, Crimea
(CNN)Eastern Europe, here comes the cavalry.
The U.S. Army says it will soon be sending armored Stryker vehicles on a 1,100-mile convoy through six European countries to show solidarity to allies in the wake of recent Russian actions in the Ukraine and Crimea that have Eastern Europe on edge.
The move was first reported Thursday in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. U.S. Army Europe posted the Stripes story on its website on Friday.
The convoy is "a highly visible demonstration of U.S, commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO's ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation," U.S. Army Europe spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Childs, said in a statement, according to the Stripes report.
The troops and vehicles involved will be moving from training exercises conducted as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, the report said. They'll move through Latvia and the Czech Republic as they make their way to Vilseck, Germany, about a 40 miles drive from the Czech border.
The troops involved are from the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which are based at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, and they will be accompanied by the Army's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, which will provide aerial reconnaissance, the Stripes report said.
The move is unusual because long-distance movement of heavy military vehicles such as the 18-ton Strykers is usually done by rail.
The trek is being called a "Dragoon Ride," after the unit's nickname, the Dragoons. Troops will camp out along the route.
"For those participating in it, Dragoon Ride is a unique opportunity," Stripes quoted Childs as saying. "Soldiers and their leaders will have numerous opportunities to engage with local communities along the route, deepen their appreciation for the cultural diversity within the alliance and enhance the relationships that are essential to building and maintaining mutual admiration, respect and trust among allied militaries."
The convoy will be the latest in a series of displays the U.S. and its NATO allies have taken under Operation Atlantic Resolve, during which the U.S. "is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region, in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine," according to the Defense Department's website.
The displays have come as close to 300 yards from the Russian border as U.S. Army Strykers participated in an independence day celebration in Nava, Estonia, last month.
Other recent actions include the Air Force's movement of 12 A-10 Thunderbolt "tankbuster" attack jets to an air base in Germany and this month the placing of hundreds of tanks and military vehicles in Latvia, where they'll soon be matched up with 3,000 troops from Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Tension with Russia extends to the air too. Adm. William Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that "this past year has marked a notable increase in Russian military assertiveness."
Russian heavy bomber aircraft flew more patrols outside Russian airspace "than in any year since the Cold War," though he did not offer a specific number. There have also been increased Russian air patrols across the coastlines of Europe.