101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army is preparing for war with Russia
The 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army has been sent to Europe for the first time in almost 80 years amid rising hostilities between Russia and the NATO military alliance, which is commanded by the United States. The “Screaming Eagles” light infantry force is trained to arrive on any battlefield in the world within hours and be prepared to engage in combat.
In a Black Hawk helicopter, CBS News traveled with Brigadier General John Lubas, the division’s deputy commander, and Colonel Edwin Matthaidess, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, for the hour-long journey to the very edge of NATO territory, which is only about three miles from Romania’s border with Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, began his full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Since then, his forces have moved north from the Crimean Peninsula, an area of Ukraine that Moscow illegitimately annexed in 2014. Russian forces have been attempting to advance into the Kherson region along the Black Sea coast for more than seven months in an effort to seize the important Ukrainian port cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa.
They want to deny Ukraine any access to the sea so that both the nation and its armed forces are blocked off on land. One of America’s most elite air assault units has been deployed in with some heavy machinery due to this threat, which is so close to NATO territory in Romania.
As Lubas told CBS News, “We’re prepared to defend every square inch of NATO soil.” We bring a special ability thanks to our air assault capability… We are a light infantry unit, but we still have the mobility to support our air and ground assaults.
Skirting north along the Black Sea coast of Romania, the Black Hawk finally landed at a forward operating location where American and Romanian troops were conducting a joint ground and air assault practice.
Both the artillery and tank fire were genuine. The exercise was designed to simulate the conflicts between Russian forces and Ukrainian soldiers that take place daily just across the border. The U.S. Army is present, and the war simulations being held so close to the border send a strong message to Russia and America’s NATO partners.
When referring to the famous World War II fight on France’s north shore, Romanian Major General Lulian Berdila told, “The actual meaning for me, to have the American troops here, is like if you were to have allies at Normandy before any adversary was there.” At the Romanian military’s air base, American forces are constructing a garrison.
A total of 4,700 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home base of the 101st Airborne, have been sent to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank.
According to Matthaidess, he and his troops were the American forces that were the closest to the action in Ukraine. They have been “closely studying” the Russian forces from their vantage position, “creating goals to practice against,” and holding exercises that “perfectly mirror what is going on” in the conflict.
He stated, “It keeps us on our toes.”
The leaders of the “Screaming Eagles” repeatedly told CBS News that while they are in the area to defend NATO territory, they are completely prepared to cross the border into Ukraine if the combat intensifies or if NATO is attacked.