Top general says Pentagon should consider more troops in Europe

Commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Tod Wolters looks on during a Senate armed services committee hearing on the posture of U.S. European Command and U.S. Transportation Command at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

March 29 (UPI) — The top general in charge of U.S. troops in Europe said Tuesday that the United States will need to consider increasing permanent troop deployments to Europe in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Gen. Tod Wolters, U.S. European Command chief, said he believes more U.S. troops will be needed on the continent going forward.

“I think what we need to do from a U.S. force perspective is look at what takes place in Europe following the completion of Ukraine-Russia scenario and examine the European contributions, and based off the breadth and depth of the European contributions, be prepared to adjust the U.S. contributions. And my suspicion is we’re going to still need more,” he said.

Wolters made the comments during a hearing by the Senate Committee on Armed Services on the posture of European Command.

He said the United States will need to determine whether to use permanent or rotational forces — or a mix — in Europe.

Wolters said there’s a possibility more troops could be sent to Europe in the “next few weeks” in response to questioning by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

“We take a conditions-based approach and we look at the issues second-by-second, minute-by-minute,” he said. “I would just tell you that based off the dynamic environment that exists today, that number could change. I suspect that it probably will, and in which direction will be determined based off conditions.”

U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he doesn’t plan to send U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine against Russia. He did, however, deploy an additional 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe to support NATO and Ukraine in the weeks before the Russian invasion.

Wolters told the senators Tuesday there may have been a gap in U.S. intelligence that could have led officials to overestimate Russia’s military capabilities ahead of its invasion of Ukraine. He made the comments in response to questioning by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

“As we’ve always done in the past, when this crisis is over with, we will accomplish a comprehensive after-action review in all domains and in all departments and find out where our weak areas were and make sure we can find ways to improve, and this could be one of those areas,” he said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, but the much-smaller military force of Ukraine surprised much of the globe by holding off or delaying Russian advances in some key areas.

Russia announced Tuesday that it plans to “reduce military activity” around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and other locations under heavy shelling for weeks.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officials aren’t taking anything Moscow says at “face value,” but “they failed to take Kyiv and we believe Kyiv was the key objective.”


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