The US Walks a Fine Line in Eastern Europe

Washington wants to rebuild a capable, conventional deterrent without agitating the country it is meant to deter.

In early June, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien signed a memorandum authorizing yet another drawdown of American troops, this time directing the Pentagon to remove more than a quarter of its forces stationed in Germany and placing a cap of 25,000 personnel in the country. Following similar actions throughout the Middle East, the move affirms Washington’s commitment to restructuring its defense posture. This restructuring, or at least the timing of it, may not have been possible without the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent recession, which have been distracting enough to give the U.S. Defense Department the opportunity to act on its long-term plans to counter conventional threats. Chief among them is Russia. Moscow’s adventurism in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere over the past decade reminded Washington that it ought to strengthen its forces along Europe’s eastern flank. Hence why it is moving its soldiers in Germany farther east to places like Poland. But this is more of a balancing act than a true pivot; Washington isn’t vacating Germany entirely any more than it is setting up a new iron curtain in Poland. Instead, the U.S. is layering its forces, keeping a permanent presence in Germany while supporting its rotational presence […]

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Caroline D. Rose
Caroline Rose has a Masters of Science (MSc) in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Just before joining GPF she served as a Research Associate for LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), where she researched the nexus between illicit economies and armed insurgencies. She earned her undergraduate degree from American University's School of International Service and has worked previously at both Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. Her studies and projects at these institutions covered a range of topics, from Russian and Chinese cyber warfare, evolving American interest within a changing international order, and grand security strategies against state-led revisionism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Throughout she's written for a diverse array of publications including Limes in Italy.