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U.S. troops placed on heightened alert for possible deployment to Europe

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The Defense Department on Monday placed 8,500 U.S.-based service members on heightened alert for deployment to Europe in response to the escalating crisis with Russia over Ukraine.

According to CNN, the Biden administration was in the final stages of identifying specific military units it wants to send to Eastern Europe.

Fort Bragg would not say Tuesday if Fort Bragg soldiers would be deployed.

“The 82nd has an immediate response alert so we’re always on heightened alert,” said Lt. Col. Brett Lea, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. “There’s no change in that. If there is a change, it will come from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It will be announced from that level.”

The 82nd always has a brigade that’s ready to deploy, Lea said. “That’s the traditional mission of the 82nd.”

John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the order highlights America’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its commitment to the common defense, according to the Department of Defense website.

“As (President Joe Biden) has made clear,’’ Kirby said during a news conference, “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.”

The United States and its allies have a good “site picture” of the Russian moves to surround Ukraine, Kirby said in a news release. “It’s very clear that the Russians have no intention, right now, of de-escalating.”

The move comes amid rising tensions over Russia's military buildup on its border with Ukraine that were not eased during talks Friday between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

U.S. service members also could reportedly be moved from existing posts in NATO countries in Europe.

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis on Monday called for an aggressive stance against Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.

“That must start with imposing robust economic sanctions against Putin’s inner circle and casting Russia as a pariah state,” Tillis said in a news release. “Democracy is in danger in Europe. We must clarify our support for Ukraine and do everything in our power to protect our allies.”

Last week, Biden said he had warned Putin that an invasion of Ukraine would cause the U.S. to send more troops to the region. On Sunday, the State Department ordered the families of diplomats in Ukraine to leave the country.

“We stand ready to follow the orders of our higher element. Should that need arrive,” the 82nd’s Lea said, “we’ll be ready.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

service members, deployment, Fort Bragg, Europe

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