The United States will dramatically increase its military deployments in Europe with additional troops and weapons, as part of the largest NATO defense buildup since the Cold War in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden has said the United States will strengthen its military presence in Europe “to defend every inch of allied territory”, at a summit of NATO leaders expected to agree on an overhaul of NATO’s strategy. alliance to defend Eastern Europe from Moscow.
The United States will establish a permanent headquarters for its 5th Army Corps in Poland, send 5,000 additional troops to Romania and increase rotational deployments to the Baltic states, Biden said, as part of efforts to bolster the NATO’s first line of defense against a possible attack.
Two squadrons of US F-35 fighter jets will be sent to the UK, Biden added, in addition to stationing air defense systems in Italy and Germany and increasing the number of US naval destroyers in Spain to six. against four.
The new deployments will add to the more than 100,000 US troops currently stationed in Europe, which had already increased by about 20,000 since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine four months ago.
Other NATO states were expected to announce defense spending increases and additional deployments at the Madrid summit, as well as agree additional military support for Ukraine. Britain’s defense secretary said he would commit an additional 1,000 troops to defend Estonia against a possible Russian attack and commit a naval strike group to NATO’s new high-alert forces.
NATO has also officially invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, after Turkey lifted its veto on their membership applications on Tuesday evening.
Biden said the summit was “historic” and that additional US deployments would “send an unequivocal message that NATO stands strong and united.”
“At a time when [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin broke the peace in Europe and attacked the very principles of the rules-based order, the United States and our allies are stepping up,” Biden said. “The actions we take at this summit will further increase our collective strength.”
The scale of the Russian invasion, which killed thousands and displaced about a quarter of Ukraine’s population, forced NATO officials and Western leaders to abandon their existing plans to defend the eastern flank of the alliance, which are now deemed insufficient to withstand an attack.
“The United States will strengthen our force posture in Europe and respond to the altered security environment to defend every inch of allied territory,” Biden said.
The US deployments come as NATO prepares to agree new defense plans that will more than seven times increase the number of troops on high alert to respond to an invasion to more than 300,000 from the current 40,000.
This comes in response to demands from the Baltics and other eastern NATO allies for more permanent, larger and better equipped forces to defend them against Russia.
“This will be a historic and transformative summit for our alliance,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday morning. “We meet in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since World War II.”
“The biggest overhaul [of] our collective defense since the end of the cold war will be agreed at this summit,” he added.
Britain already has two battle groups of 1,000 troops each in Estonia. One battle group is there permanently and one is committed until the end of the year at least. The additional 1,000 soldiers would not be based in the country but dedicated to its defense, to be deployed if necessary.