Biden sends F-35s, other military assets to shore up NATO's eastern flank

By Tony Bertuca / February 22, 2022 at 3:46 PM

President Biden has ordered a host of U.S. military assets in Germany and Italy, including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, be redeployed to bolster NATO nations in Eastern Europe amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior defense official.

The redeployments include up to eight F-35s from Germany to “several operating locations along NATO’s eastern flank,” along with an infantry battalion of 800 personnel from Italy to “the Baltic region,” the official said.

Additionally, the redeployment will include moving a battalion of 20 AH-64 attack helicopters from Germany to the Baltic region, and an attack aviation task force of 12 AH-64 helicopters from Greece to Poland.

“These additional personnel are being repositioned to reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO member states, and train with host-nation forces,” the official said.

The forces will report to Gen. Tod Wolters, chief of U.S. European Command.

“These moves are temporary in nature, and are part of the more than 90,000 U.S. troops already in Europe on rotational and permanent orders,” the official said. “The United States maintains significant numbers of combat-capable forces in Europe.”

The redeployments follow a White House speech from Biden in which he also announced the “first tranche” of economic sanctions against Russia for invading two separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine.

“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said. “If Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further.”