America to increase military presence, spending in Europe
The United States (US) is preparing to boost its military presence in Europe, and at a cost of up to $1 billion, President Barack Obama disclosed yesterday, as tensions in the region simmer over Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine.
Standing with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, Obama said the US plans to send more military equipment and rotate additional American troops into the region. He called on lawmakers in Washington to provide the funding to sustain the effort.
Obama's announcement marks a significant departure from a two-decade trend towards a smaller US military presence in Europe amid a shift by the Obama administration to a more visible and active naval and air-power presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Just three years ago, the Pentagon downgraded the top US Army Europe commander from a four-star to a three-star general.
"Today, I'm announcing a new initiative to bolster the support of our NATO allies here in Europe," Obama said at Warsaw's Belweder Palace. "Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will preposition more equipment in Europe."
If approved, the funding will be used to increase military exercises and training missions on the continent, as well as rotations of air and ground forces, the White House said. Officials said Obama was also seeking to ramp up US Navy participation in NATO deployments in the Black and Baltic Seas, plus working to boost the military capacity of non-NATO countries that are in Russia's neighbourhood, including Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.