U.S. Army Gets Brand-New, Lethal Armored Vehicle to Counter Russia Threat in Europe

The U.S. Army in Europe received new armored infantry fighting vehicles this week that bolster its strength at a time when Russia is considered a growing threat to the region. Getty Images

The U.S. Army in Europe received brand-new armored infantry fighting vehicles this week that bolster its strength at a time when Russia is viewed as a growing threat to the region.

The Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany is the first unit to receive the upgraded Stryker, which is equipped with a new turret mounting a 30 mm auto cannon––a significant increase in firepower from the current M2 .50-caliber machine guns. The 30 mm cannons can fire high-explosive, armor-piercing and air-burst rounds, according to Stars and Stripes. The Stryker also can carry up to nine soldiers at a time.

In August, as the Army tested the upgraded Stryker in Europe, soldiers said it gave them a huge boost in confidence in terms of confronting threats. "You're laying that hate [on a target] with a bigger round. It's doing a lot more damage and you're getting better effects," Staff Sgt. Randall Engler said at the time.

As Russia has taken aggressive action in Europe, such as its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and ongoing intervention in Eastern Ukraine, the U.S. military has sought to modernize its forces in the region. The Stryker's upgrade occurred as part of this broader effort.

The upgrade to the Stryker, and the general request for more firepower by the U.S. military in Europe, "is directly attributable to Russian aggression, and we are actively working with our foreign partners in how to help shape our formation," Lt. Col. Troy Meissel, deputy commander of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, said in August.

The U.S. military has expressed concern about its current strength in Europe. In November, Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley called for more troops to be sent to the region. "We, the Army, think that additional capability is probably needed, in combination with our NATO allies, to ensure deterrence of further Russian territorial aggression," Milley told reporters.

The U.S. currently has around 62,000 troops in Europe, far less than the 300,000 stationed in the region during the Cold War.