US weighs whether to withdraw extra troops deployed to eastern Europe
Uniformed defense officials have advised Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to maintain the US military presence in Eastern Europe and rotate the troops, while policy officials have advised against this recommendation.
The Defense Department is considering whether to withdraw or rotate some 4,300 US troops deployed to Eastern Europe in support of NATO's deterrence efforts against Russia, according to a report by NBC News.
There is a disagreement among defense officials about whether to maintain the US military presence in Eastern Europe. Some officials believe that the 4,300 troops are not deterring Russia and that their presence is unnecessary. Others believe that the troops are necessary to show support for NATO allies.
According to the report, uniformed defense officials have advised Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to maintain the US military presence in Eastern Europe and rotate the troops, while policy officials have advised against this recommendation.
The Defense Department is also considering a third option, which would involve rotating some of the 4,300 troops to different locations in Eastern Europe, according to the report.
This would allow the US to maintain a military presence in the region while also rotating the troops and reducing costs.
In February 2022, before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine, the US Defense Department sent hundreds of additional troops to Eastern Europe in response to concerns among NATO members about a potential Russian invasion.
The stated goal of the deployment was to deter Russia from intervening militarily in Ukraine and to reassure allies concerned about a potential spillover of the conflict into neighboring countries.
The deployment of US soldiers to Eastern Europe is expected to end in early 2024.