By Daniel Chaitin
The Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which boasts the “Screaming Eagles” moniker, has been deployed to Europe for the first time since World War II, practicing with live tank and artillery rounds not far from the Black Sea, across which Russia has taken territory from Ukraine, including Crimea, at a forward operating site on NATO’s eastern flank, according to CBS News.
Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the division’s deputy commander, stressed this is “not a training deployment” but rather a “combat deployment” from which his forces “need to be ready to fight tonight, depending on how the situation escalates across the border.”
Col. Edwin Matthaidess, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, told the news outlet these troops are the closest U.S. unit to the fighting in Ukraine, still raging more than seven months into Russia’s full-scale invasion began. “It keeps us on our toes,” he said.
The roughly 4,700 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, are about three miles away from Romania‘s border with Ukraine, conducting joint ground and air assault exercises with Romanian forces meant to simulate battles that Ukrainian forces are waging against Russian invaders.
“It’s not just about defending NATO territory,” Charlie D’Agata, senior foreign correspondent for CBS News, said in one report from an air base in Romania. “If the fight escalates, and NATO partners are under threat, they’re fully prepared to cross over into Ukrainian territory if ordered to do so.”