The Pentagon is making long-term plans for Europe in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine war

Amid deep concern over Russia’s broader aspirations, the open war in Ukraine has called into question the Pentagon’s long-term plan, as senior U.S. defense officials are expected to reorganize how to deploy troops in Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries.

General Mark A. Millie, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that he would like to build permanent bases for U.S. troops in the region, but would also like to deploy personnel there in rotation, “so you’ll get the effect of permanence at a lower cost.” This does not include expenses such as family housing and schools.

“I believe many of our allies, especially those in the Baltics or countries like Poland or Romania, are very ready to establish permanent bases,” Millie testified before the House Armed Services Committee. “They will build them and pay them.”

In a testimony before the same committee last week, Air Force General Todd D., who heads the U.S.-European command, said: Walters said NATO’s current policy of deploying troops through Eastern Europe “must change” and that countries there are “very ready.” NATO forces must be captured permanently.

Top-level discussions have come as Russian forces stumble in an attempt to seize most major cities, including Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. As a result, US officials estimate that Russian President Vladimir Putin is adjusting his intentions toward a greater military presence in eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s grave in Ukraine, echoes of Soviet defeat in Afghanistan

As a result of Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine and subsequent invasions, the Pentagon has increased the number of U.S. troops in Europe from 60,000 to more than 100,000. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, the US military presence in Europe was over 400,000.

Senior U.S. defense officials are careful to define Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a generational event that has elevated world order, and to describe which path they will follow. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said last week that the United States would consult with its allies “at the right time” to determine what the proper security situation in Europe would be, “no matter how this war ends.” Debates whether there should be a “large permanent balance”.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the issue could come up at the NATO summit in June.

Austin said, “We want to make sure that we continue to reassure our allies and allies, especially those in the East and especially in the Baltic region.”

Arguments are complicated by US estimates that China, not Russia, is the most important long-term concern for US security.

A senior U.S. defense official, who did not want to be named to discuss the Pentagon’s plan, said in an interview that the war in Ukraine would result in “postural changes in Europe” and “may involve some US presence.” . “But Eastern Europe will also be strengthened by the forces of other NATO countries, which are counting on the need to stop Russia in the coming months and years, the official said.

“Right now, I think we can walk and slow down at the same time, and we’re turning the Indo-Pacific into a priority theater, while at the same time understanding that we need to be a little more in Europe,” the official said.

Russia’s defeats in Ukraine give the Pentagon new hope

Elbridge Colby, a former Trump administration defense official, said it was “really serious concern” what the trend would be in having more troops in Europe as a result of the Russian invasion. About the military balance in Asia. “

The Pentagon relies heavily on the U.S. military to strengthen security in Eastern Europe and may rely on the Navy and Air Force in the Pacific, more than people realize, Colby said. He said the 82nd Air Force had sent thousands of troops to Poland, which needed air support and other high-level capabilities.

“I openly think the president has this idea: ‘We are the United States. We can do anything,'” Colby said of President Biden. “But there are very real and immediate restrictions. We have to face them and change them, not ignore them.

Jim Downsent, a former Obama executive who oversees NATO security, said the United States was “not much” where it decides to set up a new base or bases in Eastern Europe. Problems.

After Russia’s invasion of 2014 and the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, U.S. defense officials examined whether U.S. troops could be permanently stationed in Eastern Europe, Downsent said. The idea, which came at a considerable cost, was eventually tabled, but recent events may change that thinking, he said.

“We are in a different day and era now,” Downsent said. “We think they need them there.”

While the Pentagon probably does not want to permanently build US troops in Eastern Europe, considering its concerns about China, it will be increasingly difficult to expel them due to external pressure from allies and internal pressure from lawyers who believe in a larger US military presence. Need in Europe, said Rachel Risso, senior colleague at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center.

“What is pro, is that the allies of the East are increasingly reassured,” Rizo said. “It simply came to our notice then that we could not return to the European continent with a large number of U.S. troops.

The report was co-authored by Karun Demirjian and Greg Jaff.

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