NATO’s Europe Redeployment: Political Opportunism or Sound Military Strategy?

cc US Army Flickr, modified, A U.S. Army Paladin assigned to Battery C, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, stands ready to fire during training at Hohenfels, Germany Jan. 22, 2018. The 2nd ABCT is among the units from 10 nations participating in Allied Spirit VIII, a multinational exercise designed to test participants' readiness and build upon existing relationships. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dustin D. Biven., public domain


Toward the end of July, the Trump administration revealed a plan for a relocation of US military forces from Germany to other European countries or the continental United States. According to President Trump, the decision was meant to chastise Germany for being ‘delinquent’ over the failure to reach the threshold of 2% of GDP on defense spending; but Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other top officials explained the move as part of a strategic repositioning meant to ensure better combat readiness, command coherence and responsiveness in order to enhance NATO’s deterrence. Even though a similar measure had already been raised in 2019, the announcement still came as a shock for Germany and other NATO members, with lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic denouncing the plan as a move that benefits Russia and weakens the Alliance. But implementing the plan will require time, and while it will surely affect America’s and NATO’s capabilities, it will hardly compromise its overall deterrence potential.

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