Biden Admin Admits U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division Deployed Right Outside Ukraine

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Winter might be coming, but tensions are certainly heating up to a possible breaking point between Russia and the rest of the world as one of America’s premier air assault infantry divisions deploys to Eastern Europe for the first time since World War II.

The historical significance of the ‘Screaming Eagles’ headquartering in Europe for the first time in 80 years should have every American sitting straight up in their seat wondering if we are about to see the tipping of this cold war into a hot war.

What could this deployment mean for the future? Will it temper the rhetoric from Russia and chill the escalation, or will it superheat the tension and lead to a possible escalation of force?

Things are getting pretty tense and scary whether you look to the west or east of us. So let’s take a peek at what the Screamin’ Eagles are up to.

Assure And Deter

CBS Evening News was apparently given permission to fly around in a helicopter with the leaders of the 101st Airborne Division in Europe and were told by Colonel Edwin Matthaidess that their role is to make sure our allies and adversaries:

“…know that we’re here, they know that we’re ready.”

Ready for what? 

In August, in an announcement of the initial deployment, it was declared:

“After 80 years, the 101st Airborne Division, known as Screaming Eagles, returns to Europe. Nearly 2,400 soldiers will be deployed to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia to protect NATO’s eastern flank, reassure our allies, and deter our adversaries.”

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A reinforcement of 4,700 troops has been sent to bolster the initial deployment. The division’s Deputy Commander, Brigadier General John Lubas, explained that this isn’t a “training deployment” but a “combat deployment,” and the difference does matter.

Holding Our Breath

With American troops so close to the war in Ukraine and Russia not known for its precision with military operations, there is a real fear that we could find ourselves involved in a third World War due to a military misstep.

Retired Naval Admiral and NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis explains:

“I worry about a Russian cruise missile that strays across the border and hits a U.S. – NATO Command center…”

A mistake like that could lead a commander on the ground to make a battlefield decision to strike, and we find ourselves in a hot war with nuclear power. I’m all about showing strength and flexing to ensure bullies stay in their zones. Still, it has to be backed up with appropriate diplomacy and communication.

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As Admiral Stavridis goes on to highlight, given that Russia has 6,000 nuclear weapons, we:

“…need a means to directly communicate and de-escalate wherever we can.”

So how is that communication going? Well… it’s not our father’s Cold War, that’s for sure.

Hello? Is Anybody There?

The Cold War was a tense time in history, no doubt, but what kept it from going off the rails into a hot war was the open lines of communication between Russia and the U.S. This same kind of communication flow has not been happening today.

Although, there are some indications, albeit, with strange allegations, that communication might be something Russia is interested in. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has had two phone calls in the last three days with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. The last time they had spoken was back in May. 

In these phone calls that Mr. Shoigu also had with his counterparts in England, France, and Turkey, he raised Russian concerns that Ukraine is working on a “dirty bomb” that it plans to unleash on its own people. For those unfamiliar, a dirty bomb is a bomb that spreads radioactive material across a large population of individuals.

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Every international military and political leader has refuted this claim as foolish. While I don’t always sing the praises of President Volodymyr Zelensky, it’s hard to see the point in causing such destruction of his own people and how that would further his cause. Perhaps it’s Russia’s way of trying to excuse the use of Iranian drones on civilian targets, or maybe it’s a setup to justify a future planned attack on Ukraine.

An Unclear Future

War and politics tend to be unpredictable. With the midterms speeding closer to us, that unpredictability could be hitting Congress and support for Ukraine sooner rather than later. Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hinted recently that if Republicans win the majority, support for Ukraine might not be as readily approved.

He explains:

“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession, and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine.”

His touch point of the economy is sound as grocery prices, housing prices, and energy prices are skyrocketing. The support provided so far to Ukraine has been staggering, with a total since January 2021 of over $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, with reports that Congress wants to rush through an additional $50 billion before the next Congress is seated. 

Over 20 years of war in Afghanistan, we provided roughly $72 billion in aid. At the current rate of support, we will far surpass that dollar amount in less than one year for Ukraine.

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Are We Ready?

I have had some interesting conversations regarding Ukraine lately with friends and family. There is this belief that as one of my friends put it, the Republican Party has shifted to that of the 1930s isolationists. 

I am no Russian sympathizer, and I believe that Vladimir Putin and his ilk pose an existential threat to the world order, in addition to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping. But you don’t win a cold war by speeding into a hot war without the ability to win said hot war.

The Heritage Foundation’s recent assessment of U.S. military readiness is sobering. According to their report:

“The current U.S. military force is at significant risk of not being able to meet the demands of a single major regional conflict. The force would probably not be able to do more and is certainly ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major conflicts.”

With some saying Xi may decide to invade Taiwan as soon as next year, we should all be wondering if we should perhaps spend some time getting our military machine ready to deter our adversaries because, from what I can see, we are not teed up to win, whatever ‘victory’ in this case looks like.

Yet the 101st is “fully prepared” to cross into Ukraine at a moment’s notice. 

Oddly that doesn’t make me feel better.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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