Senior military officials have proposed to extend U.S. presence in Europe to counter Russia in the event of a crisis.
Military and defense leaders discussed countering Russian influence at the Reagan National Defense Forum over the weekend and an idea that would deploy multiple U.S. brigades in Europe at any given time on a rotating basis.
Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, said it’s important to be ready to face various threats from Russia, and not let the situation in Syria turn attention away from the annexation of Crimea.
“Aggression left unanswered is likely to lead to more aggression,” Milley told The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter commented on the Russian “aggression” and said NATO is need of a “new playbook” to deter Russia.
The U.S. has gradually lowered the number of troops in Europe since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. currently has about 65,000 military troops stationed across the continent. NATO recently announced its intentions to send an additional 4,000 troops to Russian borders.
The U.S. has proposed to develop training bases in countries bordering Russia, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as well as nearby Bulgaria and Romania.
“The challenge here is to deter further aggression without triggering that which you are trying to deter,” Milley said. “It is a very difficult proposition.”
Officials said the final decision on the proposal will be made in the next couple of months and will then have to get approved by the Obama administration and get funding from Congress.