Washington: Alleging that the Russian aggression in Ukraine has left countries in Eastern Europe concerned about their safety, US President Barack Obama today announced to strengthen America’s robust military posture in the region.
“As we approach the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, it is clear that the United States and our allies must do more to advance our common defense in support of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace,” Obama said.
That is why today the US administration has announced a four-fold increase in European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) funding for Fiscal Year 2017, he said.
The Pentagon quadrupled its budget from USD 789 million to more than USD 3.4 billion for military spending in Europe.
“An ERI funding level of USD 3.4 billion will enable the United States to strengthen our robust military posture in Europe and improve our ability to uphold our Article 5 commitments to NATO members,” Obama said.
It should make clear that America will stand firm with its allies in defending not just NATO territory but also shared principles of international law and order, he added.
Describing this as a challenging and important time for NATO, a cornerstone of transatlantic security that is increasingly called upon to be a cornerstone of global security, Obama said NATO is necessarily evolving to meet a range of challenges, not just to its east but also to its south, where civil war and failing states continue to fuel mass migration and terrorism.
“All 28 NATO allies are members of the counter-ISIL coalition, and NATO allies and partners must continue to work together to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” he said.
“This budget request ensures that the US is prepared to meet its commitments to NATO, and should be a reminder that every ally must properly resource its defense and invest in the capabilities our Alliance requires,” Obama said.
The White House said ERI funding will enable the United States to expand and deepen activities.
The United States will maintain its commitment to a persistent rotational presence of air, land, and sea forces in Central and Eastern Europe for training.
In order to enhance deterrence, the United States will also augment its force presence in Europe through continuous US armored brigade rotations, it said.
In addition to increased presence, the enhanced US force presence in Europe will enable more extensive US participation in exercises and training activities with NATO allies and partners, improving overall readiness and interoperability, the White House said.
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As announced in June 2015, the European Activity Set, which includes one US armoured brigade combat team’s vehicles and associated equipment, is being prepositioned on the territory of several NATO allies, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, in order to support exercises and training throughout Europe, the White House said.
The budget request will place additional Army Prepositioned Stock in Europe. These additional combat vehicles and supplies are intended to reduce force deployment times and enable a rapid response to potential contingencies, it said.
Improvements throughout Europe on installations such as airfields, training centers, and ranges, will improve allied military readiness in the region and provide for quick dispersal of forces if required, it noted.
ERI funding will also continue to build the capacity of Central and Eastern European allies and partners to defend themselves and enable their full participation as operational partners in responding to crises in the region, the White House said.