In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US military leaders are calling for a larger presence in Eastern Europe. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Congress on Tuesday that the US’s allies in the region should build permanent bases where US troops can be deployed.
Milley told the House Armed Services Committee that the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania are “very, very willing” to work with the US to establish new bases. “They’ll build them, they’ll pay for them,” Milley said.
The general said that he thinks the bases should be permanent, but US troops should rotate through them. “My advice would be to create permanent bases but don’t permanently station, so you get the effect of permanence by rotational forces cycling through permanent bases,” Milley said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that establishing new bases in Eastern Europe is still a “work in progress” and that it would be discussed at a NATO summit in June. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has told alliance members to increase military spending to establish a larger military presence in the region.
There are currently over 100,000 US troops in Europe for the first time since 2005, tens of thousands of which were deployed in recent months. In January, there were about 80,000 US troops on the continent.
Last week, Gen. Tod Wolters, the head of US European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe head, told the Senate that he believes the US will need more troops on the continent even after the war in Ukraine is over.