The Air Force will increase its rotational presence in Europe thanks to a significant boost in European Reassurance Initiative funding in the Fiscal 2017 budget, US Air Forces in Europe Command Gen. Tod Wolters said at AWS17. The increased number of theater security packages will “equavalent to what you see with the introduction of the brigade combat team” in Europe, he noted. In November 2016, the Army announced plans to deploy 5,700 troops from two brigades to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which provides reassurance to NATO allies in response to Russian aggression in the region. Wolters said he’s also “very excited about the insertion” of four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland on a rotational basis. “It’s allowing us the opportunity to bring in more components, cover down on more domains, check more functions, and increase interoperability of US and allied forces to a degree we haven’t been able to do exercise before because of the sheer presence of all the forces,” he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.