US to Increase Military Presence in Germany

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, on a visit to Germany, announced an addition of 500 personnel to strengthen deterrence and defenses in Europe.,

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BERLIN — The United States will increase its military presence in Germany by about 500 personnel to better defend Europe, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during a visit to the country on Tuesday.

The statement not only reverses the previous administration’s plans to withdraw up to 12,000 of the roughly 36,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany. It also expands the U.S. footprint at a time when Europe is growing uneasy over Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine.

“These forces will strengthen deterrence and defense in Europe,” Mr. Austin said after meeting his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. “They will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict and, if necessary, fight and win.”

He did not elaborate on the added troops’ specific mission, saying only that the change would “create more space, more cyber and more electronic warfare capabilities in Europe.”

In recent weeks, Russia has massed more troops at the Ukrainian border than at any time since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. Pentagon officials say privately that they do not think Moscow is on the verge of an invasion, but concerns have mounted throughout the Biden administration.

Last week, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, called the signs coming out of Ukraine “deeply concerning.”

The potential for a crisis in Ukraine gives the Biden administration the impetus to take action on an issue that administration officials say the president already had in mind: reversing his predecessor’s decision to start a large-scale drawdown of the American troop presence in Germany.

Since taking office in January, Mr. Biden has sought to reassure European allies that the days of President Donald J. Trump’s persistent belittlement of NATO and the American alliance with Europe are over, at least for now.

The movement of troops includes two units that are scheduled to arrive in Germany in September and October, U.S. Army Europe said in a statement. It will include 750 family members and 35 positions for local nationals.

One of the units will involve field artillery; composite air and missile defense; intelligence, cyberspace, electronic warfare and space; aviation; and a brigade support element, the statement said. The other will be aimed at improving multinational operations.

The new contingent will be stationed in Wiesbaden, home to one of the U.S. military’s most modern installations in Germany. It is the headquarters of the U.S. Army Europe and about 3,000 troops and their families.

The change, Mr. Austin said, “will greatly improve our ability to surge forces at a moment’s notice to defend our allies.”

Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington.

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