The United States is force-feeding Europe with arms. Several U.S. military cargo ships are heading for the Old World. One of them has almost 2,500 armored vehicles onboard.
In mid-August, EADaily reported that almost 150 M109A6 Paladins as well as tanks and Hummers were delivered to the port of Beaumont (the Gulf of Mexico, Texas) and put on the board of Cape Victory. It is not known where the ship went. The last signal from its AIS was received on Aug 7.
One of the possible destinations is Georgia, which recently received armored vehicles, including Abrams, for NATO’s Agile Spirit 2017 maneuvers to be held near the Russian border.
It is known where the second vehicle, Endurance, has gone. According to Beaumontenterprise, in late Aug, the ship carried 2,500 tanks and trucks to Central Europe. “The tanks and trucks will be dropped off in places like Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary,” Maj. Joseph Komanetz specified. He did not say where the vehicles will go from there. But Beaumontenterprise’s photos pictured not only tanks and trucks but also M109A6 Paladin howitzers.
According to Vesselfinder, Endurance first went to Baltimore, and now, according to Marinetraffic, it is heading for the German port of Bremerhaven, the front door for the Pentagon’s arms deliveries to Europe.
In January, according to Offiziere, the Americans dispatched there their 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division from Colorado: as many as 3,500 men, 87 tanks, 18 Paladins, 419 HMMWVs and 144 Bradleys. This is the biggest American force in Europe in over three decades. But Endurance’s cargo is expected to be even bigger and not the last one.
In the meantime, one more U.S. military cargo ship, Green Ridge, is approaching the Italian port of Livorno. That vessel can carry 57,000 tons, while Endurance can carry 73,000 tons. In August, Green Ridge delivered as many as 300 armored vehicles and tanks to the Spanish port of Rota. In May, it dispatched a similar cargo to Klaipeda, Lithuania.
Two more large cargo vessels, Cape Trinity and Cape Taylor, have been halted by Harvey and are still in Beaumont.
EADaily has already reported that the Americans are enlarging their troops in Europe and are forming combat teams in the Baltics, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. According to Ben Hodges, commanding general of the United States Army Europe, they are planning to have as many as 30,000 men in Europe, while NATO has scheduled as many as 28 maneuvers along Russia’s border this year. Those events are supposed to involve as many as 60,000 servicemen and are aimed to curb Russia and to show NATO’s unity.
The last transfer of U.S. troops to Europe has coincided with the joint Russian-Belarusian West-2017 exercise, to be held in late September, and is part of NATO’s strategy to train its corps in Europe. Defensenews explains that since the founding act with Russia prohibits NATO from having permanent troops in Eastern Europe, the Alliance ties to be as quick as possible in deploying and training new groups.
Public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Loran Doane has told Beaumontenterprise tha the Beaumont operation a "stress test" for the Army’s ability to mobilize quickly. "It's not about the number of vehicles we're moving, but the speed at which we're moving," Doane said. “The purpose is to decrease the time transports of this size take. The Army would like to shorten the time from 170 days to 50,” Lt. Col. Donald Santillo said.
This summer, NATO held a series of maneuvers bear Russia’s border. One of them, Saber Guardian in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary involved 25,000 men and over 2,000 vehicles from 22 countries. One of its purposes was to be able to concentrate necessary strike forces near Russia’s border in just 72 hours – quite a hard task, according to Duane Gamble, commander of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
Earlier EADaily quoted RAND analyst David Shlapak as saying that NATO is not yet able to quickly form an efficient strike group in Europe. For this purpose, it will need seven brigades, where four ones will have to be provided by allies. Shlapak said this in his article about Russia’s hypothetical attack on NATO. They in the West regard Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the conflict in the east of Ukraine as Russia’s aggression and qualify NATO’s operations as response measures. According to RAND, the Russians can overrun the Baltic states in just 60 hours, while the Americans will need three brigades and a whole week to throw them back.