The United States is preparing for a long-term increase in European security after Russia’s invasion

But Millie’s recommendation came with a twist: he said he didn’t think the U.S. needed to constantly deploy troops to those bases to create an effective deterrent.

“I believe that many of our European allies, especially in the Baltics, Poland, Romania or elsewhere, are very, very willing to build permanent bases,” Millie told lawmakers during a speech to Congress. “They will build them, they will pay for them, etc. so that we pass on a rotational basis. So you get the effect of a constant presence of forces, but the actual individual soldiers, sailors, pilots or marines” was not there constantly 2 -3 years ».

The Pentagon’s budget proposal of $ 773 billion, released last week, shows that the US military still sees China as its main strategic challenge. Although the budget was largely prepared for Russia’s invasion, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said last week that the budget was “China’s top priority as a challenge”, while it acknowledged “an acute threat from Russia”. .

Both countries pose different threats: China’s economy is much larger than Russia’s, with the economic power to challenge the United States directly, though it is unclear how much Beijing will be willing to use its rapidly expanding army in conflict with another major country. Russia, however, has shown readiness to use its army to achieve its goals – a full-scale invasion of Ukraine took place after previous military invasions of both Ukraine and Georgia.

“We are in the midst of a transition from two decades of fighting insurgents to competing with almost peers. It was thought that the only serious competition would be China, but now we are looking at two main competitors, “- Senate Chairman Jack Sen. Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told CNN.

It is too early to say whether the tens of thousands of new U.S. forces deployed in Europe over the past two months are beginning a steady expansion of the U.S. presence on NATO’s eastern flank to try to prevent future Russian aggression – or whether current focus on Europe will weaken if war will end by bringing back the U.S. military’s focus on the Pacific.

However, U.S. and NATO officials say everything will never go back to what it was before Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine, sparking the largest land war in Europe since World War II. The influx of military forces into Eastern Europe – and weapons that flow freely from NATO countries to Ukraine for use in the fight against Russian forces – has launched a long-term commitment to security and spending on the part of many NATO countries.

Pentagon officials, lawmakers and military experts say that while NATO is doing its best to stay out of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the alliance will have to make key decisions about whether to act in a way that risks escalating. tensions with Russia, such as accepting new members such as Sweden or Finland. Last month, Moscow threatened both countries with NATO membership.

Defense Minister Lloyd Austin said Thursday in the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States is discussing with NATO what has changed since Russia’s attack on Ukraine and how it explains it.

“This illegal and unprovoked aggression by Putin will change the security architecture in the region for a while,” Austin said. “We expect it to change our trail. As far as it changes the U.S. contribution, it remains to be seen.”

“It’s an alarm bell”

The decisions taken by the Biden administration regarding the US security position towards Russia will determine the direction of the army, which is moving from 20 years of Middle East wars and fighting insurgents to a new phase focused on military competition with China and Russia. The degree to which the military will turn its attention to Europe could help determine the future of the army, which is scheduled to shrink slightly next year, and the Marine Corps, whose future role in the U.S. military is now the subject of much debate as it prepares to reorganize.

“I think this is a very protracted conflict,” Millie said of the war in Ukraine. “And I think it’s at least measured in years, I don’t know for decades, but at least in years, for sure. It’s a very long-running conflict initiated by Russia.”

The United States is passing information on operations in the Donbas to Ukraine, the defense minister said

Austin has been adding troops and funds to the region since the Russian invasion, increasing the total U.S. military in Europe from 60,000 to about 100,000.

General Todd Walters, commander of US European Command, said during a congressional hearing last week that the Russian invasion was an unfortunate catalyst for a belated reassessment of the continent’s continued military presence.

“This must change, and it is certainly an opportunity as a result of this senseless act on behalf of Russia to reconsider the permanent military architecture that exists not only in Eastern Europe but also in our air policing activities in aviation and in our permanent naval activities. marine groups, ”Walters said.

Mark Kansian, a retired Marine colonel and senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Biden administration’s initial propensity for the war in Ukraine to focus primarily on China is likely to change.

Western officials warn that it is too early to say that Putin refused to seize Kiev, despite a change in strategy

“I think their strategy had a very strong sense that China is a‘ threat ’, as they called it – everything else should be secondary,” he said. “Now this is clearly not the case.”

The chairman of the House of Representatives, Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington, said he did not believe that additional emphasis on Russia should be made at the expense of China’s opposition. “I think we can do both. That’s what the debate over budget and defense strategy will be about,” Smith told CNN. “I think it is clear that we are ready for a more secure position in Eastern Europe with our NATO partners, no doubt.”

Republicans have accused the Biden administration of cutting the Pentagon’s proposed budget for 2023, which will increase by about $ 30 billion from the current fiscal year, saying more funding is needed in part for better containment against Russia.

“It’s an alarm bell,” said Sen. Jim Inhoff of Oklahoma, a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “There are still a lot of liberal people around who don’t think there’s any real threat. I think it’s over.”

Greater permanent European presence

U.S. officials say Putin has miscalculated how NATO will respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Projecting unity, European countries that rely on Russian energy have joined the sanctions against Moscow, and several countries that were previously on the sidelines have supplied weapons to Ukraine.
This is a marked shift from the time President Donald Trump was in office, when he questioned the value of the alliance, arguing that members of the alliance did not contribute enough to the defense, and when he insisted on the withdrawal of American troops from Germany.

But the alliance still faces a difficult, potentially shaky choice.

The President of Poland said that it is
While Ukraine seems to have postponed the prospect of joining NATO, other countries such as Sweden and Finland may be encouraged to do so, fearing the prospect of expanding Russian aggression and seeking protection from the alliance’s Article 5 commitments to protect member states from attack. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union that both Finland and Sweden could be accepted into the alliance if they wished to do so.

“We have a good dialogue with the Finnish political leadership, with the President of Finland, and also with Sweden,” Stoltenberg said. “And, of course, it’s up to them. But when they apply, I expect them to be very welcomed by all 30 allies, and that we’ll find ways to do that relatively quickly to accept their alliance if they want to.”

Michael O’Hanlan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Russia’s aggression had “reoriented” NATO to promote the security of its major countries. “NATO is, in a sense, finding its original goal, and in a sense, it is becoming an organization that is easier to keep together,” he said.

Since the Russian invasion, NATO has agreed to establish four more battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. These forces are added to the combat teams that were set up by NATO in 2017 in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which means that NATO forces are now deployed on its entire Eastern European flank.
Battlegroups are military forces from different NATO countries that are trained and deployed together so that in the event of a conflict, they can be trained as a joint NATO force.

Walters, who is also acting commander-in-chief of NATO’s allied forces in Europe, said at a hearing last week that he believed the new US military presence on the continent would be strongly supported by NATO allies.

This week, Austin approved the expansion of the deployment of US troops from the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland, about 7,000 troops and their support elements, as well as the USS Harry S Truman strike group stationed in the Mediterranean. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said both groups would remain “for a while” during a briefing last week.

“No matter how this war ends, no matter when it ends, the security environment in Europe will be different. And we will have to react to that, ”Kirby said. “But we will remain open to such talks on whether we need … a greater permanent presence on the European continent.”

CNN’s Aren Lieberman contributed to this report.

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