US servicemen have started Dragoon Ride II, a “2,200-kilometer tactical road march from the town of Vilseck, Germany to Estonia,” before annual drills, the US army official website said.
“Leading up to the Saber Strike exercise this year, the US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment will demonstrate a dynamic presence throughout the region by showcasing freedom of movement” during the march, it said.
Dragoon Ride II, from May 27 to June 15, features “1,400 Soldiers and 400 vehicles stopping in several cities to host public displays of their equipment along with their Allied counterparts.”
Currently the US Army is passing through the Czech Republic. The convoy moved to the east of the country and will spend the weekend in the towns of Vyskov, and Praslavice, the Prague Monitor daily reported. Jolana Fedorkova, from the General Staff press section, said these towns will host a joint Czech-American military exercise focusing on shooting and driving. On Monday the convoy will leave the Czech Republic.
The troops are to take part in the US-led multinational exercise “Saber Strike 16” – held annually in the EU since 2011. This year the exercises will take place in the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – from May 30 to June 22.
The exercise “serves as an effective proving ground for units to validate their ability to assemble rapid-reaction forces and deploy them on short notice where needed,” the US Army said.
Nearly 10,000 servicemen from 13 states are to participate in the drills. Apart from major NATO force – US – and host countries – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – they will include Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia and the UK.
Russia has repeatedly said it is alarmed over NATO’s increased activity in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Earlier in May, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO-Russia relations are “quickly rolling back” to the state of the Cold War era.
“We are still alarmed over the expansion of NATO presence and the bloc’s ongoing enlargement towards our borders. This is a source of concern for Moscow and is the reason for a series of predictable, systematic and consecutive steps which Moscow is taking to safeguard its security interests under the current circumstances,” Peskov said.
The statement from the Kremlin came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is ready to repel aggression against one of its members in Eastern Europe.
“The signal of having a multinational presence sends a very clear signal… that an attack on one ally would be an attack on the whole alliance,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on May 21.Also in May, at a pre-ministerial press conference, the NATO secretary general said the NATO military buildup on the territory of Eastern European countries is a response to “Russian aggression in Ukraine.”Russian President Vladimir Putin said, however, that Moscow is being forced to look for ways to neutralize threats to its national security due to deployment of the NATO anti-missile shield in Europe, after the alliance launched a missile defense site in Romania.