America Needs to Send Thousands of Troops to Europe Now

In the aftermath of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, the head of US and NATO forces in Europe told lawmakers on Tuesday that he expects additional American troops will be required in the long run.

The Buildup

Thousands of soldiers have been temporarily sent to Central and Eastern Europe to boost NATO’s east against Moscow, according to European Command head Gen. Tod Wolters, who spoke before the Congressional Armed Services Committee.

When asked about the need for a larger permanent military involvement in the region, Wolters said the US should evaluate its own stance, as well as that of its partners.

This comes in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, with the possibility of adding more forces in mind.

“I think what we really need to do so from a US force point of view is look at what happens in Europe after the Ukraine-Russia situation is completed and examine the European commitments.”

“We must be prepared to change the US efforts based on the scope and depth of the European efforts,” Wolters asserted. “I have a feeling we’re going to have to do more.”

A constant infusion of weapons and equipment, such as anti-tank, as well as anti-aircraft weapons, into Ukraine to oppose Moscow’s invasion corresponds with a rise in US soldiers as NATO looks to deter additional Russian aggression.

The United States has also taken steps to bolster NATO members on the eastern flank, including sanctioning tank supplies to Poland.

For the troop deployments, lawmakers set aside billions of dollars in emergency money.

The Calculations Begin

In the aftermath of the crisis, Pentagon leaders are reevaluating US force deployments in Europe.

Mara Karlin, the Pentagon’s Undersecretary for Strategy, Plans, and Abilities, told Congress earlier this month the Defense Department would evaluate its Global Posture Review.

This will be done to determine “what kind of troop presence — whether changes were implemented or permanent — is necessary, considering the current security situation.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand questioned Wolters if U.S. force levels in Europe would alter “in the next few weeks” in a separate discussion. Wolters said such levels could rise, but the decision will be made “depending on ground conditions.”

“We adopt a condition-based approach,” Wolters explained, “and we look at the difficulties second-by-second, minute-by-minute.”

“I’d just like to point out that, given the current dynamic situation, that number could change.” I believe it will, and the direction in which it moves will be dictated by the circumstances.”

Wolters has also spoken with Adm. John Aquilino, the head of US forces in the Indo-Pacific, on the US and alliance response to Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

This may be used as a model for dealing with Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

Wolter and Aquilino are “both quite dialed into” China-Russia collaboration, according to Wolter. Their discussions, he said, are intended to assist the Indo-Pacific Command in “imagining” a possible reaction as regional tensions rise.