WATCH: Additional U.S. troops to Europe may join NATO response force as Russian attack on Ukraine continues, says Pentagon

Some of the additional 7,000 troops the Pentagon announced on Thursday would be deployed to Europe will likely be used as part of the NATO response force to protect allies as the Russian attack on Ukraine continues, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Friday.

“A good chunk of the 7,000 we talked about yesterday we believe will be earmarked for NATO contributions,” Kirby told reporters during a news briefing.

Troops that were not needed by the NATO response force will still be sent to Europe and “can be used unilaterally to support and reassure our allies.”

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that Biden and his counterparts have agreed to send parts of the organization’s response force to help protect allies in the east over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking after chairing a NATO meeting, Stoltenberg said the leaders decided to send parts of the NATO Response Force and elements of a quickly deployed spearhead unit. He did not say how many troops would be deployed, but confirmed that the move would involve land, sea and air power.

The NRF can number up to 40,000 troops, but Stoltenberg said that NATO would not be deploying the entire force. Parts of a force known in NATO jargon as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is currently led by France, will also be sent.