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US will send 20,000 troops for largest European military drill since Cold War

A M2 Bradley fighting vehicle and a group of M1 Abrams tanks. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
December 11, 2019

The United States military will deploy 20,000 troops to Europe in April and May for the largest military exercises on the continent since before the end of the Cold War.

U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said the exercises will be centered in Germany. According to Reuters, the troops being deployed will join with U.S. forces stationed throughout Europe and military forces from 18 other NATO allies, adding up to a total of 37,000 troops participating in the military exercise.

The training will reportedly test the alliance’s ability to move troops across the Atlantic into Belgium and the Netherlands before maneuvering them through Germany and Poland. The maneuvers parallel the “Return of Forces to Germany,” or “REFORGER” practice operations of the 1980s.

The military training is reportedly meant to rehearse a military response to Russian aggression, such as its 2014 annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine. NATO has already deployed battalions into Poland and the Baltics as a deterrent to potential Russian offensives.

Following the maneuvers, the U.S. troops deployed will return home.

Maj. Gen. Seguin, who oversees NATO operations from the organization’s headquarters in Belgium, said “This really demonstrates transatlantic unity and the U.S. commitment to NATO.”

He said it has been at least 25 years since the U.S. last demonstrated its ability to rapidly reinforce allies across the Atlantic at such a level.

NATO has seen a shake up over the past few years, particularly with the urgings of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has called on the leaders of other NATO countries to meet their funding and participation commitments to the Cold War-era alliance.

Trump recently left the 70th-anniversary meeting of NATO early over an apparent dispute with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau appeared to joke about Trump’s forceful approach to garnering spending commitments from the NATO allies.

Trump responded by calling Trudeau “two-faced” and said, “I called him out on the fact he’s not paying 2 percent, and I guess he’s not very happy about it.”

Some NATO members have shown recent rifts with the alliance. Turkey has been criticized for its decision to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense systems which challenge the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter used by other NATO allies, causing them to be excluded from the fighter program.

Turkey has also seen isolation at recent NATO meetings over its recent unilateral military offensive in northern Syria, threatening U.S.-allied Kurds in the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also expressed reservations with NATO’s focus in recent years. Prior to NATO’s 70th-anniversary meeting, Macron said the alliance was experiencing “brain death” and suggested the allies should shift their focus away from providing a military check against Russia and China and instead focus more directly on combating terrorism.

NATO has maintained its check against Russia given renewed patterns of reported cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and covert operations by the Cold War opponent.