The "Iron Horse" 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division will head to Eastern Europe in the fall to bolster allies concerned about Russian aggression in the region.
About 600 troops from the 1st BCT will replace an equal number of paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade in October, Pentagon officials announced Wednesday.
The "Sky Soldiers" of the 173rd have been conducting training exercises since April with troops from Poland and the Baltic states in response to the Russia's takeover of Crimea and continued backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine. The 173rd troops will return to their base in Vicenza, Italy.
The 1st BCT troops will bring with them their M1A1 Abrams tanks and armored personnel carriers for a three-month training cycle as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve to put more U.S. and NATO troops in Eastern Europe on a rotational basis.
The announcement about the 1st BCT came as Russia again raised tensions in the region by sending a convoy of more than 200 trucks to Ukraine's eastern border in what Moscow described as a humanitarian move to deliver relief supplies.
The convoy on Thursday reportedly was headed to a border crossing controlled by the separatists. Ukraine's government in Kiev fears that the humanitarian convoy is a cover for the delivery of weapons to the separatists.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the Russians could deliver relief supplies through the International Red Cross rather than by sending a convoy guarded by military vehicles.
Warren said the concern at the Defense Department was that the convoy could be "some sort of Trojan horse" ruse for the shipment of arms.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com