As a symbolic show of support to its allies, a U.S. convoy of military vehicles is traveling through several Eastern Europe countries with the final stopping point in Germany. Its journey took off on Saturday and is expected to be completed by April 1.
RT.com reported that Operation “Dragoon Ride” is touring through Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, and the Czech Republic to Germany to show solidarity with the countries that “live closest to the Bear.” The U.S. Army’s 2nd Calvary Regiment is covering 1,000 miles, finishing in Vilseck, Germany.
“The whole purpose is to assure those allies that live closest to Russia that we are here,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe on the maneuver.
Typically, U.S. Stryker vehicles are transported by rail. However, the decision to convoy them in such a public manner was agreed on as a way to demonstrate the presence of U.S. and NATO forces in the region. The move of the over 120 pieces of machinery has been coordinated with the six European governments.
Not everyone is happy with America’s show of force, with some activists accusing the U.S. of splitting European societies into different sides. According to the European press, the government of the Czech Republic has instructed its own military to protect the convoy against potential protestors.
Czech Republic Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky admitted he has been questioned about “the extent to which our roads will be damaged.” Locals are complaining that the convoy will only cause traffic jams and annoyance.
“President Putin exercises freedom of movement all the time,” said Hodges in support of the “Dragoon Ride” and its intention to test the ease at which the U.S. can maneuver near Russia’s borders. “For the alliance, you’ve got to do that by moving from country to country, and what we discovered, even though these are all NATO countries and EU countries, each one still has different diplomatic clearance requirements and that sort of thing.”
According to RT.com, U.S. troops have also started testing the rapid deployment of Patriot missile launchers at a test range in Sochaczew near Warsaw as part of their week-long exercise. The contingent consists of around 100 U.S. troops and 30 vehicles. U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull highlighted that Washington is always ready to “defend and stand by Poland’s side in times of need.”