U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said on Tuesday that his country will send 20,000 soldiers to Europe during the coming April and May in the largest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War, to confirm Washington’s commitment to NATO.
Days after US President Donald Trump criticized the defense spending of European Alliance Partner countries at a summit in London, Major General Barre Seguin stressed that Germany-focused exercises would be the largest of its kind in 25 years.
“This really shows the transatlantic unity and US commitment to NATO”, Major General Seguin, who oversees NATO operations from its military headquarters in Belgium, told Reuters.
Anxious to deter Russia from repeating what it did in 2014 when it annexed the Crimea, the US military will test its ability to transport soldiers across the Atlantic to Belgium and the Netherlands and then quickly move east through Germany to Poland and along the eastern Alliance borders .
The soldiers are to join US military personnel stationed across the continent as part of the armies of 18 member states of the alliance, bringing the total number to 37,000 before returning them to the United States in a repeat of massive maneuvers that took place in the 1980s .
“We have not experienced such a capability to rapidly redeploy from a trans-Atlantic perspective for 25 years or so”, Seguin said.
And 70 years after its founding to confront Moscow, the alliance’s role is renewed in conjunction with Russia’s efforts to undermine Western democracies through cyber infiltration, deformation campaigns, and other covert operations.
Seventy years since its Cold War-era founding as an alliance focused on Moscow, Russia’s efforts to undermine Western democracies through cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and covert operations have given NATO a renewed sense of purpose.
The U.S. military has also put countering China and Russia at the center of national defense strategy, shifting priorities after focusing on the fight against Islamist militants.
“We’re going into an era of strategic competition in peacetime”, Major General Seguin said. “The alliance has re orientated”.