The Pentagon has decided to extend a troop deployment in southeast Romania, which is part of the US military buildup in Eastern Europe that was ordered around the time Russia invaded Ukraine.
The US currently has about 4,000 members of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division based out of the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base near the Romanian city of Constanta on the Black Sea. The New York Times said the base is just “a seven-minute rocket flight across the Black Sea from where Russian forces have settled in Crimea.”
As part of the deployment, some of the 101st Airborne members have been simulating war with Russia, just miles from the Ukrainian border. The troops there have been conducting exercises with Romanian forces involving artillery, launching helicopter assaults, and digging trenches similar to those on the front lines in Ukraine.
According to the Times, the 101st Airborne troops will leave Romania in about two months but will be replaced with a different brigade from the 101st Division. The next deployment is expected to last about nine months and will be led by senior officers, including a two-star general.
In October, CBS News embedded a reporter with the 101st troops that were drilling in Romania just four miles from the Ukrainian border. Commanders told CBS that they were in Romania to protect NATO territory but said they were ready to “fight tonight” and said they could enter Ukraine if the war escalated.
The 101st presence in Romania marks the first time the division has been deployed to Europe since World War II. The buildup has brought US troops numbers in Europe to over 100,000 for the first time since 2005 and includes 12,000 US soldiers based in Poland.