The first armored brigade combat team to deploy to Europe as part of a new nine-month rotation will deploy this winter, the Army announced Thursday.

About 4,000 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team will deploy in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The soldiers are stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado.

"Bringing an entire armored brigade combat team, including all of our heavy equipment, to Europe is a challenging opportunity that [the brigade] is proud to embark upon," said Col. Christopher Norrie, the brigade commander. "Thanks to the aggressive training we've conducted over the past year in preparation for this mission, I am confident we are the right heavy brigade to continue the armored presence in Europe."

Also deploying to Europe are about 1,750 soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. The soldiers, from Fort Drum, New York, also will deploy this winter to support Operation Atlantic Resolve.

"I could not be more proud of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and the support they have provided over the last year and a half around the globe," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Bannister, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, in a statement. "I am extremely confident that with the training they are participating in and receiving … along with their experience and outstanding leadership, they will be prepared and ready to meet and exceed all requirements in their support to Operation Atlantic Resolve and the European theater."

The Army has increased its presence in Europe – sending soldiers and equipment – in an effort to reassure its allies in the region and deter against an aggressive Russia. This is the first time, however, that it is dedicating an entire armored BCT to the region for nine months at a time.

Previous deployments have seen armored BCTs or elements of them rotating in and out of Europe for shorter periods of time.

The new back-to-back rotations in Europe, what the Army calls "heel-to-toe" or continuous rotations, come just five years after budget cuts forced the Army to shut down the two heavy brigades stationed in Europe and bring home all its tanks and other heavy vehicles.

It also adds an additional overseas requirement for the Army’s already busy armored brigade combat teams. The active Army only has nine armored BCTs, and they already are tasked with nine-month rotations to Kuwait and South Korea.

The upcoming deployment will allow soldiers from 3rd BCT, 4th Infantry Division to better partner with America’s NATO allies and partners, Norrie said.

"Living and training alongside our NATO allies and partners on a daily basis will provide ample opportunities to build a comprehensive team that strengthens defensive capabilities and deters aggression in Europe," he said. "However, we also are mindful of the sacrifices our soldiers and families will make during this deployment."

Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.

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