The U.S. Army has a rapid reaction force based in Italy — the 173rd Airborne Brigade — but according to a new internal study, it’s not ready to confront a high-tech, well-equipped military force like Russia or its proxies, which is what it was designed and deployed to do. The problem is that the force, a bulwark of the NATO alliance, is underequipped, undermanned, and inadequately organized after being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times over the past decade. The report notes that the brigade does not possess “essential capabilities needed to accomplish its mission effectively and with decisive speed,” according to the analysis.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the 173rd’s paratroopers were the first to reach the Baltic states as a means of potentially countering any Russian or Russian-sponsored moves into any of those countries, and as a deterrent to an attack against NATO’s eastern flank. But the new assessment lists several “capability gaps” that were seen during the unit’s recent training with Ukrainian troops that have been engaged against Russian-backed separatists who have employed low-cost drones and electronic warfare tools to pinpoint targets for artillery, even as they have destroyed Ukrainian government armored vehicles with state-of-the-art Russian antitank missiles.
See the rest of our analysis on this and other developments in this week’s Executive Intelligence Summary, due out Friday. To subscribe, click here.