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Video Above: Army 2-Star Describes Range Doubling, Course Correcting Artillery

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

Navy destroyers, Army tanks and Air Force F-35s are all moving closer to NATO Eastern Flank as part of a massive increase in US force posture announced by President Biden.

F-35s and DDG 51 Destroyers

More US F-35s are going to the United Kingdom, more US Navy DDG 51 destroyers are going to Rota, Spain, and a new Army headquarters units is heading to Eastern Europe. The US is building a large new headquarters military base in Poland to house the Army’s V Corps as part of a massive, multi-faceted European force build up announced by President Biden.

"In Poland, we're going to establish a permanent headquarters of the U.S. 5th Army Corps and strengthen NATO interoperability across the entire eastern flank," President Biden said, according to a Pentagon report on the NATO Summit in Madrid

The forward headquarters will include a command post, Army garrison and field support battalion. The units will also manage and oversee large stockpiles of forward-positioned weapons, platforms supplies and ammunition and include a steady, consistent rotation of forces. 

F-35 Lightning II

F-35 Lightning II

It appears the move may enable a longer term or somewhat permanent increase in force rotations through Poland following the initial plus up after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The new rotational force will include a large Armored Brigade Combat team, a Combat Aviation Brigade and a division headquarters. 

The overall approach is clearly aimed at strengthening the NATO alliance along its Eastern Flank. The additional US force in Poland adds great significance given the growing US-Polish alliance building in recent years. Not only is Poland now an F-35 customer but the country is also buying a large amount of US-built Abrams tanks. This massively helps interoperability between US and Polish forces and places stealth aircraft and heavy armor within faster striking distance of Russia

Pentagon Initiative & Troops

Part of this Pentagon initiative will include supportive rotational units in Romania and what the Pentagon report called “enhanced” deployments in the Baltics. Missions in the Baltics will include “armored, aviation, air defense and special operations forces,” the Pentagon report says. The new units will support the “additional” 20,000 troops already sent to Eastern Europe in response to Russian aggression.

Clearly deterring Russia has been a priority for the Pentagon for many years, yet it is naturally a multinational effort which is not gaining additional traction throughout NATO given the massive extent to which Russia’s invasion has changed the security situation in Europe.

oe Biden at the Nato summit in Madrid. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

oe Biden at the Nato summit in Madrid. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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As far back as 2016 raised the concern that a large conventional Russian force would be positioned to quickly take over the Baltic states, given the size of their armored divisions, tanks and infantry. The study, which based its findings upon a series of elaborate wargames, recommended additional forward placement of US Army forces. 

Of course this study followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and attacks in Ukraine. Following Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, however, the international resolve to deter Russia is naturally much more substantial, as there is a strong NATO-wide collective will to ensure Putin’s Russia does not seek to further expand beyond Ukraine.

President Biden is also adding a substantial new measure of Naval firepower to the European continent and the Mediterranean Sea by increasing the number of US Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain from four up to six.

Two additional heavily armed US Navy destroyers will not only involve a massive increase in available firepower but also greatly expand the range and reach of European-based warships for the service. For instance, a quick look at a map shows that Rota, Spain is roughly 1,900 miles from Istanbul and the Dardanelles passageway crossing from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea. By extension, the Black Sea entrance in Istanbul is roughly 380 miles from Odessa Ukraine and even less to Crimea.

This suggests that forward positioned destroyers could be capable of entering the Black Sea, perhaps by using allied ports in the Mediterranean or being resupplied at sea. An ability to forward project power is of course fundamental to the US Navy’s global deterrence posture, and it makes sense that the Mediterranean and Black Sea would now command a much greater operational presence to contain further Russian aggression.

The US Navy is also deeply committed to ensuring the free flow of commercial traffic through strategic waterways and critical parts of the globe. Clearly the Black Sea and the Mediterranean are now at much greater risk given Russian military operations against Ukraine. In the early days of the war, Russian naval forces launched amphibious attacks against the Ukrainian coastline and are also now using ships to form a blockade. As a result of the blockade, Ukraine is not able to export its grain across the globe. Should the US Navy, however, have an increased ability to reach the Black Sea, Russian might be less inclined to be as aggressive against Ukraine in the area.

Raytheon SPY-6 Radar

Raytheon SPY-6 Radar

The move also makes sense given that the US Navy is massively upgradings its fleet of destroyers through the acquisition of as many as 10 new DDG 51 Flight III destroyers. These ships, now at various stages of completion, bring a paradigm-changing SPY 6 radar system to the fleet which is much more sensitive and discriminating than the radars they are replacing. The Flight III radars are able to detect threats one half the size at twice the distance as the previous system, making air and missile defense much more robust and longer range.

Perhaps of greatest significance, the plus up of US Navy destroyers bring the possibility of moving much more firepower into strategically vital areas such as the Black Sea. For instance, the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missiles can attack at ranges up to 900 miles, a scenario which makes the Russian coastline and parts of mainland Russia extremely vulnerable to attack from the Black Sea. Istanbul is roughly 500 to 600 miles from key areas of inland and coastal Russia.

Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization

Warrior Maven and the Center for Military Modernization support the US Military and the need for continued US Modernization. However, Warrior Maven and the Center for Military Modernization do not speak for the US military or any US government entity. The Center is an independent entity intended to be a useful and value added publication for thought leadership and important discussion about modernization. Warrior Maven discusses and explores technologies, strategies and concepts of operation related to modernization and the need for deterrence and continued US military readiness, training and preparation for future conflict in a fast-changing threat environment. Warrior Maven does receive some support from private industry but all thoughts are those of the authors.