The US is carrying out its biggest deployment to Europe since the Cold War-era.
In his remarks at the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and Sub-Committee on Security and Defence (SEDE), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that US-EU security cooperation was at a high.
And he said that despite some difference between the US and EU, cooperation was at an increase in recent years.
“And the paradox is that we have differences, but at the same time, North America and Europe are doing more together than we have done for many years. Because, for instance, I read sometimes that the US is leaving Europe. The US is not leaving Europe. The United States is actually increasing their military presence in Europe.
It’s correct that after the end of the Cold War, the United States gradually, for good reasons, reduced its military presence in Europe. That’s correct. But over the last years, the United States has not decreased but increased its military presence in Europe, with more troops, more investment in infrastructure, more prepositioned equipment.
And now in a few weeks, we will have the big exercise, Europe Defender 2020.
And in that exercise, the United States will deploy 20,000 troops directly from the United States to Europe, in the biggest deployment of US forces since the end of the Cold War.
So again, you can like it or dislike it, or you can be in favour or whatever, but it’s not . . . it’s factually wrong to say that the United States is leaving Europe. There are more US troops now in Europe than have been for many years. So the US is not decreasing, they are increasing.”
In turn, the EU allies are increasing their readiness, and are establishing new battle groups in the Eastern part of the alliance, in the Baltics and Poland. Furthermore, all NATO members are increasing defense spending in recent years.
“And also, after years of reducing defence spending – all NATO Allies cut defence spending after the Cold War – but now, actually, all Allies, including all European Allies, have started to increase defence spending. I’m not saying that they invest as much as they should. But I’m saying that it’s a big difference from reducing, compared to increasing.
And the fact is that all Allies, all the European Allies, Canada, are now investing more in defence. Just over . . . just since 2016, European Allies and Canada have added 130 billion, 130 billion US dollars more for defence.”
And this investment is to address various challenges, but notably are three of them:
- Fighting against ISIS and terrorism as a whole;
- A group response to Russia:
“The second item is . . . or challenge we also need to address together is Russia. We have, as you know, in NATO developed what we called a dual-track approach to Russia: deterrence, defence and dialogue. And there is no contradiction between deterrence, defence and dialogue.”
Stoltenberg said that despite the INF Treaty falling apart and the New START moving towards the same end, Russia was generally to blame, but it was an issue between Moscow and Washington. Regardless, NATO would address “Russia’s increasingly assertive actions.”
“For instance, the demise of the INF Treaty, the treaty that banned all intermediate range missiles in Europe, it’s a US-Russia agreement. And NATO was a platform to address that. The New START, of course, is a bilateral arrangement between Russia and the United States, but has a lot to say for European security. So I believe in arms control. But to have meaningful arms control, we need also to have, also, the United States around the table, to also address arms control with Russia.”
- New technology, big data, and so on, and predominantly focused on China’s advent.
“So the third challenge I will briefly mention is new and emerging challenges. Technology, artificial intelligence, autonomous weapon platforms, big data. All these emerging technologies will change the nature of warfare as much as the industrial revolution. And we need all the ingenuity, all the capacity of both North America and Europe together to be at the forefront of that development to keep our technological edge. And this is also linked to the rise of China.”
The usual rhetoric is present, with Russia’s actions being described as isolated incidents, of a continuous trend of aggression, all the while any US and/or NATO actions are described as an answer to them. Despite the fact that it was the US that deployed Aegis Ashore in Europe that could easily launch nuclear-capable Tomahawk missiles, and which it has already done so in missile tests in the US.
“And we see a more assertive Russia, violating the INF Treaty, deploying new nuclear-capable missiles in Europe. And, therefore, we just have to make sure that there is no misunderstanding, no room for miscalculation, that NATO is not able to provide deterrence and defence to protect all NATO Allies. As long as that is absolutely clear, there will be no war. If there is any uncertainty about that, there is a risk for conflict.”
Exercise Defender-Europe 2020 is nearing its beginning, The the following will take part in the military drills:
- 20,000 U.S. service members from the continental U.S. deploying to Europe
- 13,000 pieces of equipment drawn from the Army Prepositioned Stock
- 9,000 U.S. service members based in Europe participating
- 7,000 Army National Guard Soldiers from 12 states participating:
- 4,000 km traveled across 12 convoy routes
- 750 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers participating
- There will be 6 linked U.S. exercises:
- Allied Spirit XI;
- Dynamic Front;
- Joint Warfighting Assessment;
- Saber Strike;
- Swift Response;
- Trojan Footprint
- There will be 4 Army Preposition Stock draw sites in Belgium, Germany and Netherlands.
As per the US Military in Europe Website:
“Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the deployment of a division-size combat-credible force from the United States to Europe, the drawing of equipment and the movement of personnel and equipment across the theater to various training areas. U.S.-based equipment will leave from ports in four states and arrive in six European countries. This will require the support of tens of thousands of service members and civilians in multiple nations.
U.S. service members will then spread out across the region to establish intermediate staging bases with multinational forces and participate in various annual exercises. These U.S. and European exercises are regularly conducted and not part of DEFENDER-Europe 20, but rather “linked” through a shared exercise scenario, coordinated mission command, mutual sustainment and common communication environment.”
It essentially plays out the possibility of a wide-scale war, clearly with Russia.
Defender-Europe 20 will conclude with the redeployment of U.S.-based forces and equipment. U.S. Service members will clear the training areas, return prepositioned stocks, move to ports and return to home stations –fulfilling the U.S. military’s commitment to the NATO agreements.
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