Defense secretary announces increase to US military presence in Germany

The US will completely station “approximately 500 additional US personnel in the Wiesbaden area” of Germany and shall be on the bottom “as early as fall,” Austin mentioned throughout a information convention in Berlin.

“This planned increase in US personnel underscores our commitment to Germany, and to the entire NATO alliance,” he added.

Austin’s announcement comes amid US and NATO’s concerns over the increase in Russian troops on Ukraine’s japanese border, which quantity to extra Russian troops than any time since 2014 when the peninsula of Crimea was annexed, in accordance to the White House.

In his announcement Tuesday, Austin mentioned the brand new personnel in Germany “will strengthen deterrence and defense in Europe, and they will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict.”

He mentioned the forces would “create more space capabilities, more cyber and more electronic warfare capabilities in Europe” and “greatly improve our ability to surge forces at a moment’s notice to defend our allies.”

Asked if this was a message to Russia, Austin replied, “Let me assure you that it’s a message to NATO, and that message is that we support NATO to the fullest extent.”

“And most importantly, we value the relationship with our partner here in Germany. And so we will continue to strengthen our partnership and our alliance,” he mentioned.

Germany’s Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer welcomed the announcement of an extra 500 US troops stationed in Germany as “happy news” and mentioned the US’ dedication to NATO is “a crucial pillar for our freedom and peace.”

“Our cooperation is all the more important, important in times where the security and defense architecture has come under pressure in many parts of the world,” she mentioned showing alongside Austin Tuesday.

Austin will proceed on his first journey to Europe as protection secretary this week, becoming a member of US Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Brussels to meet with NATO allies.

Blinken on Tuesday reiterated that “the United States stands firmly behind the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” throughout a gathering with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels.

The high US diplomat mentioned that assist was notably vital in gentle of Russia taking “very provocative actions when it comes to Ukraine.”

“We’re now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border since 2014 and that is of deep concern not only to Ukraine but to the United States and indeed to many of our allies and partners,” Blinken mentioned, including that he’d be consulting with NATO companions in the times forward.

Kuleba expressed appreciation for the US’ assist and expressed optimism that the worldwide neighborhood would take “actions that will make it very clear for Russia that the price of its further aggression against Ukraine will be too heavy for it to bear.”

US European Commander Gen. Tod Wolters informed Congress that Russia has an “inject of a very sizable ground domain force” close to the Ukraine border, in addition to a “notable air force injection and a notable maritime force injection.”

“It is of the size and scale and scope that is of great concern,” he mentioned Tuesday throughout a Senate listening to, including that the Russian pressure at this time mirrors that of its 2014 infiltration.

Austin plans to meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on “how the Alliance is tackling destabilizing behavior by Russia, a rising China, terrorism, and global challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change,” in accordance to the Pentagon.

The Trump administration announced last year it could withdraw practically 12,000 troops from Germany in a plan that may have price billions and brought years in order to relocate the troops. The resolution was met with broad bipartisan push again amid considerations that it’ll weaken the US military’s place in regard to Russia.
In February, President Joe Biden said he was halting the troop drawdown, framing his resolution as essential to strengthening Europe’s defenses. Biden additionally voiced assist for NATO and its Article 5 dedication to collective protection, which former President Donald Trump typically appeared reluctant to affirm throughout his years in workplace.

Asked Tuesday if his announcement was a sign that he will not perform the Trump administration’s plans to draw again 1000’s of troops from Germany, Austin famous Biden’s February announcement and mentioned he emphasised to Kramp-Karrenbauer that the US has “ceased planning” for a withdrawal.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufman, Samantha Beech and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.

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