Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States via Wikimedia Commons

As I previously noted, withdrawing 11,000 U.S. troops from Germany is part of a broader strategy that involves deploying 5,000 of those troops forward to Poland, as well as Italy. Increased rotational deployments of U.S. forces throughout Europe are also a part of this strategic realignment.

SEE ALSO: U.S. Air Force Plans to Counter Russia by Upgrading Airbase in Romania

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper reassured NATO allies that the United States was not weakening its commitment to Europe and remained focused on deterring Russia. This realignment of U.S. forces in Europe is long overdue. The U.S. needs to continue these efforts.

However, President Trump also undermined the Pentagon message by restating his reason for the move was only due to Germany’s years-long “delinquency” in meeting the NATO 2% benchmark for defense spending. While this is one valid reason, along with the time delay in building up infrastructure in Poland, the Baltics and elsewhere, these POTUS statements, and some U.S. withdrawal, do worry some of our more supportive and vulnerable NATO allies.

As The Washington Examiner (TWE) notes, “While troop rotations are widely welcomed by Poland and the Baltic nations, allies indicated infrastructure to support more U.S. troops will not be available for some time and mixed messaging is hurting deterrence efforts.” The former Soviet colonies of the Baltics – Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia – are particularly vulnerable and concerned.

They prefer a larger, permanent presence to deter Russia.

While there have been numerous U.S. force deployments to Estonian in recent months, for example – notes TWE, including U.S. strategic bombers conducting joint exercises in Estonian airspace, the Baltic Sea naval exercise BALTOPS this summer, and U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reapers being based there, these were all temporary rotations.

This is why Estonia appears especially concerned. Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik said in a statement to TWE, “The U.S. intention to reduce its permanent presence in Europe is not a positive development,” and the Estonian military attaché in Washington, D.C., Naval Capt. Sten Sepper previously also expressed his concerns.

Sepper told the Washington Examiner that, “It makes the three Baltic nations a bit nervous,” noting the “weakest link” in NATO are Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

These Baltic countries are directly adjacent to Russia’s heavily militarized enclave of Kaliningrad. Having U.S. troops in the region, especially combat multipliers such as air defense and artillery, deter Russia, he said, adding that permanent U.S. forces:

puts automatically the flag on the table…In our region, one of the biggest security [signs] is the badge, the U.S. badge on your shoulder. People see that, that provides a lot, and it makes our eastern neighbor quite nervous.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense said to the Washington Examiner, “We have been communicating to the US that our priority and objective is to have as much US presence in the Baltic region and in Lithuania as possible.”

Forward deploying U.S. troops to Poland, Italy, and elsewhere is a welcome development, but the U.S. must not forget the vulnerabilities of our Baltic allies. To truly deter Russia, the U.S. must also reinforce these countries with a more permanent U.S. military presence.

READ NEXT: Russia’s Reckless ‘GRU’ Military Intelligence Could Start War With U.S. >>

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Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Myron J. Poltro
Myron J. Poltro
1 year ago

Served the second half of my enlistment [Ex-GI 06/’59-06/’62] in West Germany, stationed 5 miles from both Munich and Dachau. (Yes, I was there when the wall went up.) As the Public Information Office photographer for a helicopter battalion, I got to interview a lot of survivors of Socialism, National [NAZI] and International [USSR]. The stories they told were eerily similar. Most of those people from the Hitler era are now dead and gone and now many of the escapees from “The Eastern Zone” are well on their way to following them. One thing that has always struck me about Munich, as beautiful as it is and as dedicated as the Germans seem to being logical and scientific, is the fact that they hold their “October Fest” in September. I figured it must have been significantly warmer when they started their tradition, but, over the past couple of decades, a man, named “Mann” has told the world that wasn’t possible because they played a lot of hockey for a very long time in the past. Hmm. Go figure.

Last edited 1 year ago by Myron J. Poltro
A. D Roberts
1 year ago

The lies of the left. Global warming is and was an effort to destroy America’s economy. The Paris accord required we give money to the entire world while giving carte blanche to China, India and yes, the rest of the worle.
What we have here is an effort by the ELITE ONE WORLD ORDER to bring about one world order. With them in charge and us in slavery.

ray galle
ray galle
1 year ago

the troops have net been there for security for decades The German Gov. wants them there to support the economy in these areas. not our job

Scotty
Scotty
1 year ago

Stick to defendingOUR country!