June 3 (UPI) — The Department of Defense on Thursday announced its budget request for the European Reassurance Initiative, or ERI, has been increased to $4.8 billion for 2018 — a $1.4 billion increase over the fiscal 2017 budget.
Air Force Maj Gen. David Allvin, director of U.S. European Command of strategy, plans, and policy, said that the budget increase is meant to reinforce readiness, defense capabilities, planning and deterrence.
“This is one of our nation’s commitments to Europe, and it demonstrates our strong dedication to the trans-Atlantic bond and the defense of our allies,” Allvin said in a press release.
The program is meant to help deter Russian aggression since their invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Funding for the program has jumped in the last two years, starting with a $985 million budget in 2015 and $789 million budget in 2016 , before leaping to a $3.4 billion budget for 2017.
Operation Atlantic Resolve, funded in part by the program, was part of the effort to show U.S. actions to assure NATO about its commitments to European defense. The 2018 funding request includes $150 million to Ukraine for internal defense against Russian-backed insurgents and regular forces.
The program also includes defense infrastructure construction, training exercises and pre-positioned units to act as a deterrent force against Russia.
“As we continue to address the dynamic security environment in Europe,” Eucom Commander Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti said, “ERI funding increases our joint capabilities to deter and defend against Russian aggression. These significant investments will further galvanize U.S. support to the collective defense of our NATO allies and bolster the security and capacity of our U.S. partners.”
The U.S. presence being funded through the program is the continuing rotation of an armored brigade combat team and an airborne brigade team. The program also includes increased ISR support, and will include the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. At least one brigade will be based in Poland.
The Air Force will increase surveillance and ISR support and improve defense infrastructure across the EU in order to improve theater protection, the Navy will also be stepping up submarine and mine operations, along with prepositioning equipment in case of future operations, and the Marine Corps will increase its rotational presence and pre-positioned assets.