Lieutenant General Ben Hodges (L), commanding general of the US Army in Europe, chats with US Soldiers during the 'Swift Response 17' joint airborn military exercise at Bezmer airfield near the village of Bezmer on July 18, 2017. The US led 'Swift Response 17' airborne exercise, part of the multinational 'Saber Guardian 2017' exercise, involves up to 1,600 soldiers from the United States, Canada, Italy, Portugal and Greece. / AFP PHOTO / Dimitar DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Army’s rapid reaction force in Europe is under-equipped, undermanned and inadequately organized to confront military aggression from Russia or its high-tech proxies, according to an internal study that some who have read it view as a wake-up call as the Trump administration seeks to deter an emboldened Vladimir Putin.
The Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, a bulwark of the NATO alliance that has spent much of the last decade and a half rotating in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, lacks “essential capabilities needed to accomplish its mission effectively and with decisive speed,” according to the analysis by the brigade, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the unit’s paratroopers were the first American troops to reach the Baltic states to deter another potential incursion on NATO’s eastern flank.
But the assessment details a series of “capability gaps” the unit has identified during recent training …
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