The United States is accelerating its deployment of troops to Poland, the Baltic states, and Romania meant to ensure security in the region, according to Polish and U.S. defense officials.
Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz first announced the decision on Wednesday, in the wake of a discussion with Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, in Poland, the Associated Press reported.
The U.S. will deploy an Armored Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Carson, Colorado, to Zagan in western Poland in early January and will send an additional U.S. battalion to Orzysz in northeast Poland at the start of April, according to the officials.
The troops will arrive in the port city of Bremerhaven, Germany, on Jan. 6 after which they will deploy to Poland, the Baltic states–Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania–and Romania, Hodges said. The commander added that their transfer will test "how fast the force can move from port to field."
"I'm confident in the very powerful signal, the message it will send [that] the United States, along with the rest of NATO, is committed to deterrence," Hodges said on Wednesday. "I'm excited about what my country is doing and I'm excited about continuing to work with our ally, Poland."
The U.S. troops were initially expected to arrive later in January. The Pentagon confirmed in November that the troops would number more than 4,000.
"I am very happy that a decision has been taken by the U.S. side for an earlier deployment," Macierewicz said.
NATO member states inked a separate deal to send four multinational battalions on a rotational basis in 2017 to Poland and the Baltic states, which have been rattled by Russian aggression in Europe following Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and the resulting conflict in Ukraine.
Germany will lead the battalion in Lithuania, the United States one in Poland, Britain one in Estonia, and Canada one in Latvia.
Russia has threatened to counter NATO's build up, which Moscow views as a threat to its national security, with its own forces. In October, Russia deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, it's military enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania.