Pentagon places 8,500 troops on high alert for possible Eastern Europe deployment

The State Department said the Russians know "we are prepared to engage."

Updated: January 24, 2022 - 9:11pm

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The Pentagon on Monday placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe as tensions grow on the Russian border of Ukraine. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby made the announcement Monday during a press conference. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will deploy the troops at the direction of President Joe Biden. 

When asked if troops would deploy within the next 72 hours, Kirby responded: "Today we're not talking about deployment orders. We have no deployment orders to speak to... I'm just going to leave it at that."

The thousands of troops include "additional brigade combat teams, logistics personnel, medical support, aviation support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance," according to Kirby.

“We’ll continue to provide updates in the coming days about these decisions, but specifically this will ensure that the United States and our commitment to the NRF has – is consistent with their readiness for rapid deployment again, if activated," Kirby said. The NRF is the 40,000-strong NATO response force.

State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday said that the Russians know "we are prepared to engage."

Reports first emerged Sunday that Biden was weighing sending troops to eastern Europe and the Baltics.

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