Stars and Stripes
March 2, 2022

Fort Stewart soldiers deploying to Europe will draw heavy weapons from Army’s stockpile on the Continent for first time

The Fort Stewart soldiers ordered last week to Europe on a short-notice deployment to deter Russian aggression will become the first unit to draw heavy armored weapons – including tanks – from the Army’s prepositioned stocks on the Continent, commanders said Wednesday.

Roughly 3,800 soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division crammed months of training into mere weeks last month after they were notified they could be called on short notice to Europe….

After Russia launched its attack on Ukraine last week, the entire brigade was ordered to Hohenfels, Germany, where it will gather its weapons and vehicles and train before potentially deploying to bolster NATO defenses on its eastern flank.

“[T]hey literally came right off the gunnery range about a week ago, packed containers, and then started getting on airplanes.”

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The deployment is a first for the Army – a short-notice of a heavy armored brigade combat team that uses mechanized vehicles such as tanks, self-propelled artillery, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. It comes just seven months after the brigade returned from a nine-month deployment to South Korea.

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The bulk of the unit has never deployed into combat before, said the 29-year-old captain, who in his eight years in the service was never deployed into a war zone. Though President Joe Biden has said repeatedly that he will not send American service members into Ukraine, Makulec and other soldiers said this deployment feels more like a combat mission than a typical training rotation.

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The Pentagon has already extended a deployment to Europe for the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division, another heavy armored brigade, which was set to return in the coming weeks to Fort Riley, Kan. Meanwhile, the unit scheduled to replace the 1st ID brigade – the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division – will deploy to Europe in the coming weeks. That will give the United States three heavy brigades on the Continent for the first time in decades.

The significance of that much American firepower in Europe was not lost on U.S. soldiers, Costanza said, calling the move “appropriate” considering Russia’s actions.

“Our NATO allies and partners are in a position that we need that much [power] forward” deployed, the general said.

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Once in Germany, that means pulling thousands of vehicles and heavy weapons from the pre-set equipment, known as Army Prepositioned Stocks-2. The stocks are meant to field massive amounts of firepower rapidly to American forces in the case of a major conflict in Europe….