By Kris Osborn
The Pentagon will rotate a new Brigade Combat Team along with fires, air defense, headquarters support and sustainment assets through Europe as part of a stepped up effort to counter Russian aggression and force-posturing in the region.
Speaking at a recent NATO meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the recently announced European Reassurance Initiative outlined in the Pentagon budget seeks to add $3.4 billion to the region’s budget and place additional warfighting assets and pre-positioned equipment in Europe.
Carter called the added forces a “heel-to-toe rotation to maintain a persistent combat presence throughout the year.”
“This invests in forces and capabilities to operationalize our strong and balanced strategic approach to Russia – the budget for the ERI (European Reassurance Initiative) quadrouples funding and broadens our force to include deterring Russian aggression,” Carter said.
While Carter added the additional funds and forces would allow NATO and U.S. Army Europe to conduct more training and solidarity exercises where the maneuver with allies and demonstrate the ability of mechanized forces to move quickly across the European continent.
“By the end of 2017 we will have rapidly formed a highly capable combined arms, air, maritime and ground force to bolster deterrence against high-end adversaries,” Carter added.
Also, Carter was in no way ambiguous about the initiative being aimed at Russia.
“Whether it be hybrid, cyber or information ops – Russia’s actions speak volumes,” he said. “They make it clear that all allies must continue to invest in all capabilities – not only to respond to current challenges but to stay ahead of potential future threats.”
Russia continues its aggression backing separatist rebels in Ukraine and is also maneuvering and building up forces in strategic areas, such as near the Baltic Sea.
Citing a recent trip to China Lake, Calif., a weapons testing and development site, Carter said that the U.S. retained a technological advantage over a potential adversary. He stressed that he could not elaborate much on this point, as if to suggest the U.S. was successfully developing high-tech weapons which could not be discussed publicly.
“If they (an enemy) start a war, we will have the capability to win on our terms,” Carter said.