President Joe Biden committed on Wednesday to bolster the U.S. military presence in Europe by adding more troops, fighter jets and warships, and setting up permanent headquarters for units already in Europe.
Speaking at a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, Biden said the U.S. will establish new permanent units in eastern Europe, as well as additional rotational units. While some of the changes will reposition U.S. troops already in Europe, the decisions will also add new U.S. troops to the continent.
As part of the force increases, the Biden administration with Spain on an agreement to station two more destroyers in Rota, bringing the total from four to six. A U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer includes a crew of about 300 people each.
The U.S. will also deploy two squadrons of F-35s to the United Kingdom at RAF Lakenheath.
The Department of Defense said on Wednesday it will have one additional rotational brigade combat team (BCT) in Romania. A BCT represents a force of about 4,000 to 4,7000 personnel. This new BCT adds one more in eastern Europe compared to U.S. force posture numbers released in January. This new BCT will be able to deploy its subordinate elements throughout the eastern edge of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.
The V Corps Headquarters Forward Command Post, which was already in Poland, will now permanently position itself there. This force will be able to manage command and control capabilities, interoperability with NATO, and management of prepositioned military equipment and supplies in the region. The DoD said the U.S. military will “continue to maintain, and seek to enhance” its rotational units in Poland, which already include an Armored Brigade Combat Team, Combat Aviation Brigade element, and Division Headquarters element.
The DoD said the U.S. will also enhance its rotational elements of armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces in the Baltic region.
The U.S. will also forward station an air defense artillery brigade headquarters, a short-range air defense battalion, a combat sustainment support battalion headquarters, and an engineer brigade headquarters in Germany. These units represent a force size of about 625 military personnel. A subordinate battery of the short-range air defense battalion being deployed to Germany will split off to deploy in Italy.
The addition of these new units and the changes in the U.S. force posture comes as the U.S. has already increased its troop presence across Europe to more than 100,000 personnel since Russia invaded Ukraine.
It was not immediately clear if some of the additional changes in force posture would entail bringing additional U.S. troops to Europe or moving around those already on the continent.
During a Wednesday press briefing, Assistant Secretary for Defense Celeste Wallander said, “I can’t get into the total numbers that would add up from the force posture decisions, nor where they’re coming from for security and operational planning reasons.”
“I think we’ll be able to give numbers in the future as we, you know, identify the specific units,” Wallander added. “This — these force posture changes will take place over the coming months. But at this point, you know, we can’t really give you specific numbers on any of those questions, I’m afraid.”