The United States responded swiftly and effectively in close cooperation with our NATO Allies to the European security crisis brought about by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The U.S. contributions to the Alliance’s response were enabled by the substantial forces that we had already stationed in and deployed to Europe, including robust prepositioned equipment and stocks, as well as substantial investments in infrastructure and military mobility enabled by European Deterrence Initiative funding.
Our response included dispersing forces already in Europe to bolster NATO’s Eastern Flank, to include the deployment of: attack aviation from Germany to Lithuania; an airborne infantry battalion from Italy to Latvia; elements of a Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Germany dispersed to Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary; Patriot batteries from Germany to Slovakia and Poland; and F-15s from the UK to Poland. These deployments have varied in length based on operational requirements and sustainability considerations.
Since February 2022, DoD deployed or extended over 20,000 additional forces to Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis, adding additional air, land, maritime, cyber, and space capabilities, bringing our current total to more than 100,000 service members across Europe. This included extending a Carrier Strike Group, deploying additional fighter squadrons and lift/tanker aircraft, and deploying an Amphibious Readiness Group and Marine Expeditionary Force. DoD added a Corps Headquarters, Division Headquarters, Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) battalion, and multiple enablers to the existing Corps Forward Command Post, Division Headquarters, and three BCTs already stationed in or deployed to Europe.
We also placed the entire U.S. commitment to the NATO Response Force on heightened readiness.
Last month, the Secretary of Defense decided to extend or replace the majority of our “surge force,” ensuring a robust deterrent and defensive posture alongside our Allies across the European continent. The United States will continue to adjust its posture as needed in response to the dynamic security environment.
Today, President Biden announced at the NATO Summit in Madrid the following additional long-term commitments to bolster European security:
In Poland, we will permanently forward station the V Corps Headquarters Forward Command Post, an Army garrison headquarters, and a field support battalion. These forces – the first permanent U.S. forces on NATO’s Eastern Flank – will improve our command and control capabilities, interoperability with NATO, and management of prepositioned equipment. This action builds on the central role Poland has played in supporting NATO’s combat credible deterrence and defense posture. The United States will also continue to maintain, and seek to enhance, its substantial rotational force presence in Poland, including an Armored Brigade Combat Team, Combat Aviation Brigade element, and Division Headquarters element, which enables DoD to deploy combat forces up and down the Eastern Flank.
In Romania, the United States will position a rotational Brigade Combat Team, thus maintaining an additional brigade on the eastern flank compared to our January 2022 posture. This additional brigade headquartered in Romania will maintain the ability to deploy subordinate elements across the eastern flank. This brigade will complement the other Brigade Combat Teams stationed and operating in Europe.
In the Baltic region, the United States will enhance its rotational deployments – which include armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces – to reinforce Baltic security, enhance interoperability, and demonstrate the flexibility and combat readiness of U.S. forces. We will maintain a persistent, heel-to-toe presence in the region and will intensify training with our Baltic Allies to maintain combat-credible capabilities in the region.
In Spain, the United States is working with the government to increase the number of destroyers stationed at Rota from four to six.
In the United Kingdom, we are increasing our Fifth Generation Fighter presence and ability to support Allies across Europe by forward-stationing two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath.
In Germany, the United States will forward station an air defense artillery brigade headquarters, a short-range air defense battalion, a combat sustainment support battalion headquarters, and an engineer brigade headquarters – approximately 625 military personnel in total. These forces will enhance DoD’s air defense capabilities and enabler support in Europe, which will provide key reinforcement to NATO capabilities and allow DoD to respond more effectively to threats against NATO’s eastern flank. These forces build upon the recent forward stationing of the Multi Domain Task Force and Theater Fires Command in Germany, which Secretary Austin announced in April 2021.
In Italy, the United States will forward station a short-range air defense battery – totaling approximately 65 personnel. This battery is a subordinate unit of the short-range air defense battalion that DoD is stationing in Germany.
All of these combat-credible forces and enablers are supported by significant investments in the long-term U.S. presence in Europe. In Fiscal Year 2022, DoD continues to execute $3.8 billion in European Deterrence Initiative funding (with another $4.2 billion requested in FY23) for rotational forces, exercises, infrastructure (construction of storage facilities, airfield upgrades, and training complexes) and prepositioned equipment. Our robust exercise program also complements our forces that are forward-stationed or rotating through the theater, and serves to increase our presence while building interoperability with NATO allies.