250 soldiers arrive for nine-month rotation in Germany

About 250 soldiers have arrived in Germany for a nine-month rotation to support Operation Atlantic Resolve, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

According to the Department of Defense, the troops will spend their first two weeks at Camp Kasserine in Grafenwoehr, isolated in small groups to prevent the spread of COVID-19 before moving to forward locations alongside allies and partners.

While the soldiers are isolating, the aviation brigade will conduct lower-level, individual training at the base.

''With COVID being both present in the United States and Germany, we wanted to make sure, for our host nation partners, that we do not bring any infections into the area,'' said Army Lt. Col. Benjamin Ingram,the brigade surgeon for 41st Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Army Training Command.

''Right now [Germany] is decreasing in the number of COVID cases, so we are testing 100 percent of the 101st soldiers, or any other soldier coming into our area of operations for summer training, for COVID-19 followed by a two-week quarantined period to make sure we do not have any false negative tests.''

The soldiers will join the 101st Airborne Division's 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, which consists of about 2,000 personnel and will train alongside forces from 17 European countries.

Atlantic Resolve is not officially a named operation, but a regular rotation started in 2014 as a show of force to directly respond to what the alliance sees as increased Russian aggression, primarily its intervention in Ukraine.

This year's rotation arrives shortly after President Donald Trump and Pentagon officials have publicly touted plans to reduce the number of U.S. permanently stationed in Germany by 9,500.

''The hard work from these soldiers really helped set the conditions for what's going to be an incredible deployment for the Wings of Destiny,'' said Army Col. Travis Habhab, the commander of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigate.

''We are on our way to build readiness overseas, become a more lethal unit, increase the capability of our partners and deter enemy threats. Our soldiers have started off at a great pace. I am confident that their hard work will continue throughout the next nine months, and they're going to make everyone in the 101st proud.''

The brigade conducted a train-up that included gunnery qualification and multiple training exercise at the National Training Center and the Joint Readiness Training Center.

''Coronavirus threw things off a little bit, but we were able to adapt and overcome,'' said Army Maj. Jay Berger, the executive officer for 101st.

''[We] were practicing social distancing ... and proper sanitation while we were conducting our train-up to come here. We had to get a little more creative with some of our key training events, but overall we maintained our readiness and timeline to deploy.''

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