Fort Bliss sending 400 U.S. soldiers to Europe in NATO-support effort

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Jan. 18, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Fort Bliss said it would deploy 400 U.S. soldiers and 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters to Europe in February for a nine-month rotation as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in support of NATO.

The troops and helicopters belong to the 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas.

"These soldiers will support aviation operations throughout Europe to improve inter-operability and strengthen relationships with allies and partner nations," Fort Bliss said in a statement.

The 1-501st will reinforce the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Drum, N.Y., which was the first aviation brigade to support Operation Atlantic Resolve.

"We're looking forward to this exceptional opportunity to work with U.S. Army Europe and our Allies and partners," Lt. Col. Chris Crotzer, commander of the 1-501st, said in a statement. "We are excited to conduct challenging training with multinational forces across several different countries and to learn about many new cultures while doing so."

Under Operation Atlantic Resolve, the United States has deployed troops in Europe that will train in Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia for the next nine months as a show of force to directly respond to what the alliance sees as increased Russian aggression.

"Let me be very clear, this is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure territorial integrity of our allies and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous and at peace," U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tim Ray, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, previously said.

The operation has been criticized by Russia as a "factor destabilizing European security."

In a separate mission, about 300 U.S. Marines arrived in Norway for a six-month deployment on Monday to learn basic skills winter training.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story described Operation Atlantic Resolve as a NATO operation. It is a U.S.-funded operation intended to support NATO.

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