The Ministry of Defense is sending a company of Stryker armored infantry fighting vehicles to Bulgaria, a NATO ally, to bolster deterrence against a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“These troops will be leaving Germany in the coming days, and they will help ensure our readiness and interoperability with Bulgaria as a NATO ally,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. Recount an audience in Brussels, Belgium, at NATO headquarters.
Strengthening Bulgaria is important for a number of reasons. Bulgaria is located south of Ukraine and is unlikely to be on Russia’s chosen invasion route. However, Austin pointed out that in addition to adding a large number of Russian ground forces now assembled in Ukraine, Russia is also increasing its military presence in the Black Sea. As a NATO ally with the Black Sea coastline, Bulgaria could be vulnerable to attacks by Russian missiles or warships from the ocean. Sending armed Strykers, known for their deployability and all-terrain mobility, sends a clear message to Russia that NATO is fully committed to the defense of Bulgaria.
In fact, Austin made it clear that NATO is unified and prepared to uphold Article 5 of its charter, guaranteeing collective defense in the event of an attack on any of its members.
The deployment of Strykers in Bulgaria carries another message related to mobility and deployability. In 2015, the U.S. military and its European allies staged the Dragoon Ride, an exercise that included a large convoy traveling across the European continent to, among other things, conduct joint operations with allied forces in Eastern Europe. of NATO such as the Czech Republic. The convoy, which included Strykers, tactical trucks and other armored vehicles, covered 1,800 km, stretching from Estonia in Eastern Europe to Germany. The intent of the convoy, US Army officials told Warrior Maven at the time, was to demonstrate an ability to quickly and effectively mobilize and deploy US and allied forces across the European continent. During the Dragoon Ride, soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment traveled from the Baltic States through Poland and the Czech Republic to Germany, as various allies joined along the way.
So there is a sort of strategic continuity between the 2015 exercise and today’s deployments. If necessary, US Army Strykers and other NATO mechanized ground warfare assets could deploy from Bulgaria north to reinforce Ukraine from its southern border. Bulgaria borders Romania and could potentially access southeastern Ukraine through Moldova or reach southwestern Ukraine through Romania. Essentially, if it were necessary to protect Romania or reinforce Ukraine’s southern border, the Bulgarian-based Strykers could have a unique impact. However, for now, President Joe Biden has firmly excluded deployment of US troops to defend Ukraine.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.