DOD activates 8,500 troops for possible NATO response to Russia

By Tony Bertuca / January 24, 2022 at 3:45 PM

The Defense Department is placing 8,500 troops on "heightened alert" for possible rapid deployment to Europe as part of a potential NATO response to Russia's military buildup near Ukraine.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stressed no decision has been made on whether the troops will be deployed and said none would be sent directly to Ukraine.

“The NATO Response Force has not been activated -- it is a NATO call to make,” he said during a Pentagon press conference.

"There's been no mission assigned,” he added. “What this is about, though, is reassurance to our NATO allies, and we've been talking about that for quite some time that we're going to be ready, we're going to be prepared to help bolster our allies with capabilities they might need."

Part of the new “heightened alert” posture means U.S. forces that were to be ready for potential deployment in 10 days will now be ready to leave within five days.

"It sends a very clear signal to Mr. Putin, that we take our responsibilities to NATO seriously,” Kirby said of the Russian president. “And we are also working with the international community to implement severe consequences for Mr. Putin, if he were to go [invade] again in Ukraine."

The Pentagon is not yet identifying the units being placed under alert as they are still being notified.