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WASHINGTON, June 17. /TASS/. The US has not made a final decision about a disposition of heavy weapons of a brigade in Europe, the commander of the US army in Europe, Lt-Gen Frederick "Ben" Hodges said in a telephone conversation with a TASS correspondent on Tuesday.
"The final decision on the location would be up to the Secretary of Defense. It could all be in Germany where we can use so we have a rotational force - a brigade of soldiers coming from the States (to Europe) for a 2-3 months period each year, it just started last year. So they could draw from the motor pool in Grafenwoehr and Mannheim," he said. However, he continued, "we also considered putting it in locations in Eastern European countries - Poland and so on, where it would be easier to conduct training with NATO allies in those countries. So, the final decision would be up to the Secretary of Defense."
"Where it finally ends up - is it Germany, is it in Germany or Poland, is it in Germany and distributed in smaller packets in other countries - that is the decision that the Secretary of Defense will make and he'll make an announcement at some point."
The commander said the decision may be announced at NATO’s meeting of defence ministers due in Brussels on June 24-25.
He said the equipment mentioned was "one armored brigade combat team, which includes about 250 M1 tanks, M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and Paladin howitzers - the 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. So that's 240 fighting type vehicles." He repeated several times no new equipment will be put in Europe. The equipment, which may be put in Europe, is the equipment of the brigade, which earlier had been deployed in Europe from the Fort Hood, Texas.
"And back in the early days when the discussion on the NATO-Russia Founding Act (took place), the wording about "substantial" (was) one brigade per country was considered acceptable. And we are talking one brigade total that could potentially be spread out over eight countries. So, to say that this is an erosion is, frankly, a ridiculous assertion.
"Secondly, in the wording of the NATO Founding Act it also talked about, and I'm paraphrasing now, that if the current security situation stays as it is, then all these things follow. Obviously, the security situation is not now what it was at that time (May, 1997)."
The TASS correspondent asked the commander to confirm the U.S. military experts believe it unimaginable Russia may attack a NATO country or the entire alliance. Hodges said it was unimaginable that Russia would use force and invade to change borders of a European country. "I think that was unimaginable a year and a half ago. Let me say it this way: I am sure that Russia, President Putin does not want to invade a NATO country".
The US has announced plans to reject the deployment of the fourth stage of the missile defense system in Europe and to refocus towards protection against potential North Korea missile attacks. Infographics by TASS