U.S. to increase presence in Europe, strengthen NATO alliance

The United States will enlarge its troop presence in Europe, strengthening the NATO alliance.

President Joe Biden made the announcement June 29, 2022, at the beginning of the NATO Summit in Madrid following a welcome from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

U.S. M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles assigned to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, maneuver towards a situational training exercise lane at Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, June 16, 2022. The 3/4 ABCT is among other units assigned to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe that works alongside NATO allies and regional security partners. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Tara Fajardo Arteaga)

As part of the increase, the U.S. will add two additional F-35 squadrons to RAF Lakenheath in England; an increase from four to six destroyers based at Rota Naval Base in Spain; and the establishment of a permanent V Corps headquarters in Poland.

The move belies efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to shatter the Trans-Atlantic alliance. “NATO is strong, united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit are going to further augment our collective strength,” Biden said. “To that end, today, I’m announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe to respond to the change [in the] security environment, as well as strengthening our collective security.”

The president’s announcement comes on the heels of a surge of 20,000 U.S. service members to Europe to defend alliance countries in the face of Putin’s unprovoked and unnecessary war on Ukraine. There are now more than 100,000 U.S. service members serving in Europe with many along the eastern front of the alliance.

The changes the president announced have been made in close consultation with allies and will be made over the coming months.

John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, said the move comes after President Biden has worked for several months to shore up NATO’s eastern flank.

“Just since the invasion itself, he ordered the deployment or extension of over 20,000 additional forces to Europe, in response to the crisis, across all domains — air, land, maritime, cyber space — the whole swath… of U.S. military capabilities,” Kirby said.

The Madrid Summit must deal with a fundamentally changed security environment, and Biden’s announcement is part and parcel of that. The president’s moves “are reflective of the United States government’s recognition that the security environment has changed and, in particular, in the NATO [area of responsibility] that the Eastern countries are facing a heightened threat from a Russian leadership that has shown itself willing and capable of launching military attacks on bordering countries,” said Celeste A. Wallander, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for international security affairs.

At the summit, Biden said he will increase from four to six the number of U.S. destroyers based at Rota Naval Base, Spain. “In Poland, we’re going to establish a permanent headquarters of the U.S. 5th Army Corps and strengthen NATO interoperability across the entire eastern flank,” he said.

The Army’s V Corps headquarters will be a forward command post, an Army garrison headquarters, and a field support battalion, said DOD officials traveling with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who is also attending the summit. The forces will improve command and control capabilities, interoperability with NATO, and management of prepositioned equipment.

An MV-22 Osprey, attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares for flight operations aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) during exercise BALTOPS 22, June 12, 2022. BALTOPS 22 is the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region. The exercise, led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and executed by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, provides a unique training opportunity to strengthen combined response capabilities critical to preserving freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor Parker)

Poland has been a steadfast ally and enabler of many of the alliance’s moves, officials said. The United States will also maintain the substantial rotational force presence in Poland, including an armored brigade combat team, a combat aviation brigade element, and a division headquarters element. This enables DOD to deploy combat forces up and down the eastern flank, officials said.

In Romania, the United States will position a rotational brigade combat team. This additional brigade will also maintain the ability to deploy subordinate elements. The U.S. will also enhance its rotational deployments in the Baltic republics. These include armored, aviation, air defense and special operations forces.

The U.S. military will also maintain a persistent, heel-to-toe presence in the region and will intensify training with Baltic allies to maintain combat-credible capabilities, officials said.

Biden also announced deployment of two additional F-35 squadrons to RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom. These fifth-generation fighters will add to the air support for NATO forces throughout Europe.

The president said he will also deploy additional air defense, logistics and engineer assets in Germany and add air defense capabilities to forces in Italy.

These changes come on the heels of deployments made since Putin invaded Ukraine and directly challenged the rules-based infrastructure that has served the world since World War II. The U.S. response included sending airborne forces from Italy to the eastern flank, Stryker units to the front-line states, Patriot batteries to Slovakia and Poland, and F-15s from the United Kingdom to Poland.

In addition, Austin placed thousands of U.S. troops designated for NATO’s Rapid Reaction Force on heightened alert for possible deployment to Europe.

A Soldier assigned to 1st Armor Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, shares a laugh with an Armed Forces of Ukraine soldier during the drivers training portion of the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier maintenance course at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, June 2, 2022. Instruction for the course is provided by the U.S. as part of a security assistance package. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Spencer Rhodes, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

More Stories