Hagel: US May Add Brigade in Europe to ‘Counter Russia’

Over the past several years the US had been cutting back its ground force in Europe as a cost-cutting measure. In 2012 the Pentagon cut two of its four Army brigades, but that may not last.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is now saying that adding a brigade, bringing it back up to three overall in Europe, is under consideration as a move to “counter Russia” in eastern Europe.

Hagel did not specify where the new “permanent brigade,” which would be roughly 5,000 troops, would be stations, but Poland is a likely candidate, as the Polish government is demanding 10,000 NATO troops on a permanent basis.

The US has been talking up military buildups in eastern Europe over the past few weeks, but mostly centering on very small deployment of a few hundred troops here or there, and nothing on this scale.

The cost of deploying a whole extra brigade to Europe will be billions of dollars, at a time when EUCOM was supposed to be seeing cuts, not dramatic growth.

The Europe cuts were supposed to be part of the “Asia pivot,” with the US increasing interventionism in the Pacific on the basis of savings in Europe. Despite the Europe cuts not materializing, the US still seems set to keep escalating in the Pacific as well, meaning the Pentagon’s budget will continue to grow.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.