WARSAW, Poland — The Army is preparing to send a rotational armored brigade combat team to Europe starting in February next year and decisions on how the units within the brigade will be positioned are coming this summer, the US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said Monday.
"I think decisions get made in June and July about the enhanced forward presence," Hodges told a group of reporters after the Polish army kicked off its largest national military exercise called Anakonda.
Hodges said the plan is for the first brigade to arrive in February for a nine month rotation and a new brigade will rotate in each month.
Each brigade will bring its own equipment, "which is a significant investment, if you will, but it also means we will get a chance to practice moving an entire brigade from an installation somewhere in the US, across into European ports and then to deploy, so that is important for us and it also means that each brigade arrives at the highest level of readiness in the best condition," he said.
While Hodges didn't have the answers on exactly how the brigade would be dispersed, he said he expected to see a battalion-sized force potentially deployed in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria and would like to see a battalion stationed in Germany for continued training.
"There will be some sort of rotation to make sure that each of the units in that brigade are at the highest level of readiness, that they maintain readiness, that they don't just sit in one place for nine months," Hodges said. "That wouldn't be very effective."
Currently, the Army is using a rotational brigade model where units fall in on equipment already here and that equipment is what is being used in the Anakonda exercise.
Hodges said there will be a transition period between September and February as the Army moves the current brigade out. The brigade will leave some of its equipment behind until the next rotational brigade falls in with its own equipment.
The US Army in Europe received a big funding boost in President Obama's budget request which more than quadrupled the amount of overseas contingency operations money funneled into what is called the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). About $2.8 billion of the $3.4 billion in fiscal 2017 ERI funding will be allocated to the Army.
With that money the Army plans to keep a rotational armored brigade combat team in Europe and bolster its force with more prepositioned stocks. The service also plans to ramp up exercises with allies and partners.