ROTTERDAM - The United States will continue to show its commitment to NATO, a senior U.S. Army commander said Thursday as a fresh batch of military helicopters arrived in Europe's largest port to bolster ongoing operations.
Rotterdam harbor on Wednesday saw the offloading of some 60 U.S. Army Black Hawk and Chinook troop transport helicopters, belonging to the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade based out of Fort Carson in Colorado.
The brigade is starting a nine-month rotation to Europe as part of "Operation Atlantic Resolve" which since April 2014 has seen additional U.S. troop and NATO deployments to the continent, aimed at reassuring eastern allies and after Russian actions in Ukraine.
More than 6,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed in NATO members Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
"The message is to 27 countries within NATO here in Europe that we're here, we can be relied on, we're friends within that alliance," Col. Geoff De Tingo told AFP as the helicopters readied for deployment.
"We are practising coming to Europe, faster and faster. We need to come be able to come to the aid of our Dutch allies and NATO faster... in response to anything you would need help with," said De Tingo, chief of staff of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, responsible for the move.
U.S. maintenance staff Thursday put together the helicopters at a heavily-guarded shed in the massive Rotterdam port, from where they flew to a Dutch military base near Eindhoven and then to Germany.
The helicopters will eventually be deployed to eastern NATO countries, De Tingo said, adding that a consignment of Apache attack helicopters was also due within the next few weeks.
Last month some 3,000 soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division -- the ground contingent of Atlantic Resolve -- arrived in Europe, US military reports said.
The military rotation -- the third since the start of operations -- also comes ahead of a planned NATO summit in Brussels next month.