The roughly 4,700 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, are engaged in a joint ground and air assault drills with Romanian forces three miles from the country’s border with Ukraine, simulating combat that Ukrainian forces would engage in against Russian invaders.
For the first time since World War II, the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, also known as the “Screaming Eagles,” has been stationed in Europe. At a forward operating site on NATO’s eastern flank, the division is practicing with live artillery and tank rounds not far from the Black Sea, where Russia has annexed Crimea and other Ukrainian territories.The division’s deputy commander, Brig. Gen. John Lubas emphasized that this was “not a training deployment” but rather a “combat deployment,” from which his troops “need to be ready to fight tomorrow, depending on how the situation escalates across the border.” The 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s commander, Col. Edwin Matthaidess, told the news organization that these soldiers are the closest American force to the battle in Ukraine, which is still going on more than seven months after Russia’s full-scale invasion started. He stated, “It keeps us on our toes.”