President Barack Obama today announced in Poland a billion-dollar plan to boost NATO's presence in Eastern European member states in response to a perceived threat from Russia.
The White House highlights its intentions for the "European Reassurance Initiative":
- Increase exercises, training, and rotational presence across Europe but especially on the territory of our newer allies. Many of the U.S. air and ground forces participating in these activities would rotate from the United States.
- As we have done in Poland, deploy detachments of U.S. planners to augment the capability of our allies to design and host a broad range of training and exercise opportunities.
- Increase the responsiveness of U.S. forces to reinforce NATO by exploring initiatives such as the prepositioning of equipment and improvements to other reception facilities and infrastructure in Europe.
- Increase participation by the U.S. Navy in NATO naval force deployments, including more persistent deployments to the Black and Baltic seas.
- Build the partner capacity of close friends such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine so they can better work alongside the United States and NATO, as well as provide for their own defense.
The proposal will go before Congress for consideration.
The U.S. is already the largest supplier of both military personnel and funding for NATO and already has 67,000 troops in Europe. The Obama administration already sent 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states earlier this year to conduct exercises with allies and deployed warships in the Baltic and Black seas after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
NATO itself is hosting a two-day meeting in Brussels to discuss "an action readiness plan, a stepped-up schedule for military exercises and the possibility of additional deployments," according to the Associated Press.
Does Russia pose really pose a threat to NATO to justify Obama's latest military muscle-flexing? Although Russia's "unorthodox tactics" are threatening to tear apart Ukraine (not a NATO member) and could potentially trigger unpredictable instability elsewhere, Vladimir Putin likely could not afford to tread further west into NATO territory. His nation's economy is in the tank and it's not getting any better since taking on the burden of an even-poorer Crimea.