How the US intends to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank
Adversarial Studies – Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank: The Challenge of IAMD
U.S. Ambassador to NATO on the redeployment of U.S. forces in Europe and U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Alliance
On the eve of the virtual meeting of NATO defense ministers, which will be held on October 22-23, the US permanent representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison noted that she does not expect a significant reduction of American troops in Europe..
«I don’t think there will be a reduction in troops in Europe. I think we are dealing with efforts to start looking for ways to make these troops more effective by consolidating some of the headquarters in one location and deploying some of the troops elsewhere in Europe.», – said the US ambassador to NATO during a press briefing. She added that at the moment, active work of the Allies is being carried out on this issue.. – It will certainly take a lot of effort to figure out how to move troops and make sure that there is an [appropriate] infrastructure».
This summer, the US administration talked about the withdrawal of about 12 thousand American troops from Germany, thus reducing the total to 24 thousand people. At the same time, it was planned that about half of the military personnel would return to the United States..
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s remarks on Monday, October 20, at the Washington think tank «Atlantic Council» indicates that the US administration is considering the possibility of not withdrawing, but redeploying part of the American troops from Germany to the countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. He noted that in accordance with his consultations with Romania, Bulgaria, the Baltic countries, as well as the previously signed agreement on cooperation in the field of defense between the United States and Poland, part of the American troops can be deployed in the Eastern European region on «long term».
To date, four international battalions of coalition forces and a multinational brigade in Romania have been deployed in the Baltic States and Poland on a rotational basis. The countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe have repeatedly declared their readiness to host American troops on a permanent basis..
Answering the question of the Russian service «Voices of America» during a telephone briefing on the possibility of deploying American troops on «long term» in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the US Permanent Representative to NATO noted that today the Allies are deploying their troops on a rotational basis: «The militarization of Crimea, which is in close proximity to many of our allies, and the illegal attempt to withdraw Crimea from Ukraine, forced us to deploy a reinforced [allied] presence that is not permanent but represents a rotation of forces to ensure that we contain any further [potentially aggressive ] Russia’s actions».
Prospects for the possible deployment of the American military on the eastern flank of NATO on «long term» commented on the Russian service «Voices of America» and US Department of Defense Spokesman Thomas Campbell.
«Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Poland, [Minister Esper’s] recent bilateral talks with the Ministers of Defense of Romania and Bulgaria, and consultations with our Baltic allies – all this provided us with the opportunity to deploy our forces in these countries», – said Thomas Campbell. He stressed that the issue of the deployment of American troops in the region is in the process. «consultations with our allies and partners in the region, as well as with members of Congress».
Speaking about the upcoming meeting of NATO defense ministers, Kay Bailey Hutchison noted that the allies will also again discuss the issue of increasing the countries’ military spending to the 2% of national GDP provided for by the organization’s charter..
«10 of our allies will now demonstrate that they contribute 2% of their gross domestic product to their defense spending, – noted the ambassador. – We’re glad to see this going in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do.».
US presidents, Republicans and Democrats alike, have advocated for increased Allies’ financial contributions to NATO activities over the years, Ambassador Hutchison added. However, the alliance came under particularly harsh criticism in this regard from the current American administration..
Regardless, Atlantic solidarity remains strong, Hutchison said: «We see a strong United States commitment to transatlantic ties in NATO. It’s no secret that President Trump was initially skeptical about NATO, but I think he has now acknowledged that our European partners, along with Canada, have also stepped up and started to move in the right direction in terms of burden and cost sharing. And I consider this a great achievement.».
Speaking about NATO’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the US Permanent Representative to NATO noted that the alliance, along with the members of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh – Russia, USA and France – Calls on the parties for de-escalation and a peaceful settlement. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict cannot be resolved by military means, she added, and expressed the hope that the parties will be able to reach an armistice..
«Both foreign ministers [of Armenia and Azerbaijan] are going to meet in Washington. At least there was a plan for them to meet in Washington this week to discuss a way to stop the violence., – said the ambassador. – This cannot be solved by military means. The conflict must be resolved from the point of view of the issue of borders and sovereignty. And this is what we are striving for. Russia is trying to do the same, just like France. And we hope that they [parties] will agree that this [OSCE Minsk Group] group, or any group that they [parties] can agree with, will be credible for them in addressing this underlying issue, so that conflict, killings and destruction could stop».
During the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers, the Allies will also discuss the role of the alliance in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the creation of a new space center for the alliance in Germany. Space is a new area that requires the attention of allies and the prevention of militarization for destructive purposes, the ambassador said.
«We are working to, I hope, get the consent of all countries that are active in space to ensure transparency and exchange of information so that there are no incidents or conflicts.», – concluded by Kay Bailey Hutchison