Pentagon puts 8,500 troops on higher alert over Russia-Ukraine tensions

The Pentagon is readying up to 8,500 U.S. troops to potentially deploy to Europe as Russia ratchets up its aggression towards Ukraine.

“The United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us, our allies, or partners,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters Monday.

In light of that and at the direction of President Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “has placed a range of units in the United States on a heightened preparedness to deploy, which increases our readiness to provide forces if NATO should activate the [NATO Response Force] or if other situations developed."

“All told, the number of forces that the secretary has placed on heightened alert comes up to about 8,500 personnel,” Kirby said.

Kirby stressed that there has been no decision made to deploy and the actions are “about getting troops ready.”

“We're going to be ready, we're going to be prepared to help bolster our allies with capabilities they might need,” Kirby said. “We're going to do this in lockstep with them ... This is really about reassuring the Eastern flank of NATO."

The NATO Response Force, otherwise known as the NRF,  is a multinational force comprised of around 40,000 land, air, maritime and special operations troops the alliance can deploy on short notice as needed.

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