On April 11th, US European Command (EUCOM) announced that it will deploy a U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Romania.
The deployment is reportedly not permanent and will only last through summer 2019, while the existing Aegis Ashore program undergoes regular maintenance and updates.
“The THAAD, from the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, will integrate into the existing NATO BMD architecture during a limited period of scheduled maintenance and updates on the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System in Romania this summer.”
The THAAD will support the operation of the Aegis Ashore Romania mission at Naval Support Facility Deveselu as part of the existing U.S. and NATO BMD mission.
Once the THAAD is deployed, it will be under the control of NATO’s Allied Air Command.
With the end of the INF Treaty, according to the US, the Romanian Aegis Ashore (and now the THAAD) will assist in the protection of EU NATO allies as well as US forces deployed in the region “against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles outside the Euro-Atlantic area.”
The site, of course, is aimed at deterrence, but if it fails it is expected to protect the US and NATO allies from possible “Russian aggression.”
THAAD is a land-based element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. It is a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. This ability to intercept enemy missiles at high altitudes mitigates effects before they can reach the ground.
Reportedly it will only be deployed until maintenance and updates to the Aegis Ashore system are performed. But if further deterrence calls for it, the Aegis Ashore may be repurposed with Tomahawk missiles and the THAAD could become a permanent protection tool. But that would be in a scenario, in which “Russian aggression” “forces” the US and co. into a more assertive deterrence.
Since, despite the US EUCOM statement claiming several times that the deployment is temporary, there is ample evidence of military deployments (and withdrawal) lasting quite the longer period than initially hinted at.
On March 4th, US EUCOM also announced that it had deployed a THAAD in Israel, as “a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security under the Department of Defense’s Dynamic Force Employment concept.”
This placement wasn’t mentioned as temporary.
All of these deployments and militarization of the EU and closely surrounding region is more than likely a direct result of the termination of the INF treaty. Similar examples of this were the deployments of US B-52 bombers to the UK and their “regular” patrol exercises over the Baltic Sea near the Russian border.
In the 2019 US EUCOM Posture Statement, Russia was described as “a long-term, strategic competitor that wants to advance its own objectives at the expense of U.S. prosperity and security and that sees the United States and the NATO Alliance as the principal threat to its geopolitical ambitions. In pursuit of its objectives, Moscow seeks to assert its influence over nations along its periphery, undermine NATO solidarity, and fracture the rules-based international order. Russia actively pursues an aggressive foreign policy in violation of other nations’ sovereignty, carrying out subversive and destabilizing activities in Europe and the U.S. and exploiting opportunities to increase its influence and expand its presence in Afghanistan, Syria, and Asia.”
“This would be achieved by non-compliance with long-standing arms control treaties, such as the INF Treaty. These alleged violations allowed Moscow to develop capabilities that the United States continued to forego. Its “suspension” of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty gave it greater flexibility to posture forces in regions of special interest to Moscow and to do so with significantly less transparency towards its neighbors in ways we do not because of our adherence to these treaties.”
US EUCOM also claimed that NATO (which is US-led to begin with) also supported the US decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty.
“Because they recognize that Russia’s Treaty-banned systems hold much of Europe at risk and that despite significant diplomatic efforts—more than 30 engagements over nearly six years—Russia refuses to return to compliance.”
Russia also repeatedly accused the US of breaching the INF Treaty. However, these calls were fully ignored by Washington, which killed the INF Treaty in early 2019.
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