In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States is considering increasing its long-term military presence in Europe, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, before NATO leaders met in Madrid for a historic summit (29 June).
“The US will enhance our force posture in Europe, and respond to the changed security environment,” said US President Joe Biden, adding that the country will “defend every inch of allied territory.”
Since shortly before the Russian invasion in late February, the United States has increased its presence in Europe by approximately 20,000 troops, bringing the total to approximately 80,000.
Biden, speaking alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, announced that the United States intends to establish a “permanent headquarters” for the United States Fifth Army Corps in Poland.
In addition, Washington will send 5,000 troops as part of a rotational brigade headquartered in Romania, which will add “3,000 fighters and an additional 2,000 personnel,” according to Vice President Joe Biden.
The US military will increase its rotational deployments in the Baltic States, which include armoured, aviation, air defence, and special operations forces, in order to bolster security and demonstrate the combat readiness of US forces, according to a White House fact sheet.
In addition, two additional F-35 fighter aircraft squadrons will be sent to the United Kingdom, a short-range air defence battery will be stationed in Italy, and 625 additional troops will oversee and conduct air defence artillery operations in Germany.
Biden added that Washington would collaborate with Spain to increase the number of US destroyers stationed in Rota, Spain from four to six, thereby enhancing the US Navy’s ability to respond to potential threats.
The plans announced on Wednesday effectively extend the temporary deployment of 20,000 additional US military personnel to Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
The additional US deployments “send an unmistakable message that NATO is strong and united,” he said, describing the Madrid NATO summit as “historic.”
Biden stated, “At a moment where [Russia’s President] Putin has shattered peace in Europe (. . .) the US and its allies are stepping up, proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been”
A senior US official told reporters that the United States has not communicated its new deployment plans to Russia and sees no need to do so.
The announcement of additional troops comes as the Western alliance prepares to approve the pre-assignment of troops, weapons, and equipment to the Baltics, as well as the intensification of training exercises.
As part of its expanded response force, NATO aims to have as many as 300,000 troops ready for deployment in the event of a conflict.
Russia will be labelled as NATO’s “primary threat” in the alliance’s new Strategic Concept, whereas it was previously classified as NATO’s “strategic partner.”
“One of the most important messages from President Putin … was that he was against any further NATO enlargement,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Tuesday evening.
“He wanted less NATO. Now President Putin is getting more NATO on his borders,” he added.