POZNAŃ, Pol. (KSNT) – Soldiers from Fort Riley in Kansas are a car’s drive away from an ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine, and could be there for the foreseeable future, according to U.S. Army officials.
Fort Riley troops staff the headquarters of a multi-country operation aimed at deterring Russian aggression, according to the U.S. Army Europe and Africa. Officials confirmed Saturday that the soldiers would have their stay extended without a timeline. Located in Poznań, Poland, Fort Riley troops manning the HQ are around just six hours from the Ukrainian border.
Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine Thursday. By Friday, Russian troops encroached on the country’s capital, Kyiv, with explosions and gunfire audible through the city, according to Associated Press reporters in the area. The fighting is around just 13 hours away from the Fort Riley soldiers stationed at headquarters.
Around 3,800 soldiers from Fort Riley’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division have been deployed in Europe since July 2021. The group, accounting for almost half of the 7,000 troops participating, moved to the continent as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which the U.S. Army Europe and Africa said is intended to “enhance deterrence, increase readiness and support [The North Atlantic Treaty Organization].” Alongside soldiers, Fort Riley also deployed this list of vehicles:
- 15 M109 Paladins, which are artillery vehicles
- 80 Abrams Tanks
- 130 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles
- 500 tracked vehicles
- 1,500 wheeled vehicles and other equipment
While the 1st Infantry Division staffs Division Headquarters, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team has spread out to more than a dozen countries neighboring Ukraine and Russia, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. KSNT News asked Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division about what its troops were doing throughout Europe.
“Our soldiers are conducting excellent training [shoulder-to-shoulder] with our allies and partners,” said Major Jefferson T. Grimes, 1st Infantry Division. “This training increases our interoperability and improves readiness.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Army Europe and Africa also weighed in on if troops from Fort Riley could end up becoming involved in defending Ukraine or Poland from a deepening Russian invasion.
“We cannot speculate on future decisions by senior leaders nor how the current crisis will proceed,” said Major Scott Kuhn, Media Division Chief for USAEA. “What we can say is that our forces including those permanently stationed in Europe, those here on rotation for Atlantic Resolve and those deployed to assure our NATO allies are highly trained [are] always ready for whatever mission they may be assigned.”
Another unit from Fort Carson, Colo., was set to rotate in and take over the Fort Riley troops’ post in Atlantic Resolve in spring 2022, according to the U.S. Army Europe and Africa. Because Fort Riley soldiers had their stay extended, the group known as the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division will instead join Fort Riley’s brigade now, Stars and Stripes reported. This was Fort Riley’s second tour in Atlantic Resolve, previously deploying in January 2019 for nine months.