US military officials have proposed plans to expand the American presence in Europe in a bid to counter Russia in the event of a crisis, a new report says.
Addressing the Reagan National Defense Forum over the weekend, senior US military leaders said the Pentagon needs to send more forces to Europe on a rotating basis, allowing the presence of multiple US brigades in the continent at any given time, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
General Philip Breedlove, the supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said he wants more forces committed to Europe in a rotational manner. He said the final decisions on the proposal will be made “in the next couple of months.”
It was also declared in the forum that the US is stepping up its military drills in various European countries, preparing to counter potential Russian interference with troop transfers, should a war break out between the two sides.
General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the US Army, said the Army is adapting its training to make sure that the US military is able to face threats posed by Russian forces.
The American troops are preparing to counter hybrid war, a blend of regular and irregular forces with propaganda and unconventional tactics to spark confusion, Milley noted.
The defense leaders slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “military aggression and threats” and warned that Washington must not allow Moscow to cooperate with the West in Syria.
They said Putin’s military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Daesh Takfiri terrorists is in fact a distraction designed to take away attention from the conflict in Ukraine.
Breedlove warned that cooperating with Russia on Syria means the West has accepted Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russia forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Ties between Moscow and Washington hit a new low after US-backed forces ousted Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter issued a warning against what he called the Russian “aggression” at the same forum, saying Saturday that Moscow seems “intent to play spoiler” by “throwing gasoline” on the fire of Syria. He then went on to criticize Russia’s “nuclear saber-rattling.”
Carter said NATO is in need of a “new playbook” to deter Russia.
The US has vowed to develop military training bases in six countries on or near Russian borders, including Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.
It was announced last week that the US is poised to deploy 4,000 more troops in its European military bases.
The American military is pushing to include the new plan’s necessary funding in a budget request which will be sent to the US Capitol Hill early next year.
Russian officials say there is little difference between rotational forces and a permanent military buildup. They also say that the US and NATO are the true aggressors in Europe.