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What will focus minds in the Kremlin? Perhaps redeploying the US 1st Armored Division to Germany
Reporters looking for insight into the ongoing tensions over Russia sending troops along the Ukrainian border, please see comments from Syracuse University associate professor Michael John Williams. Williams teaches courses on great power conflict, transatlantic relations, and international security. His research focuses on Europe and Russia and has published extensively about NATO, war, and technology.
He provided reactions to the latest news that President Joseph Biden could send troops and warships to the Balkan region. Williams said that if Russia continues to take hostile actions, the US could move the US 1st Armored Division back to Germany. This for was deployed in 1971 to West Germany and later moved to Fort Bliss, Texas in 2011.
More details about that thinking are below.
“NATO allies have no choice but to robustly enhance their defense posture in response to further Russian aggression. To do less would be disastrous. The credibility of the Alliance, not to mention the United States, would otherwise take a blow,” said Williams. “This is something the Biden foreign policy seems to understand. But a failure to respond forcefully, could also destabilize the status quo in Europe and lead to further Russian advances, not to mention call into question US treaty commitments globally.”
“Russia never intended recent talks with NATO and other European organizations to be fruitful discussions. The Russian mentality with respect to this part of the world is an imperial one: Moscow wants to negotiate over the heads of ‘lesser states’ to settle spheres of interest. The Kremlin wants a return to a nineteenth-century concert of power arrangement, but giving in to Russia’s revisionist approach would be a mistake,” said Williams.
“The US and allies will most likely respond with additional sanctions, as well as the deployment of more troops to eastern European NATO allies. An additional option would be for the United States to make Camp Herkus in Lithuania, which currently hosts a US rotational presence, a permanent base. But a couple additional battalions in the Baltics will not focus minds in the Kremlin,” said Williams.
“What would? Perhaps redeploying the US 1st Armored Division to Germany. Originally deployed in 1971 to West Germany, this division was based in the reunited Germany until 2011, when it was moved to Fort Bliss, Texas. The move followed a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision taken while the United States and Europe were basking in the so-called peace dividend of the post-Cold War era,” said Williams.
“Placing this division in Germany would be less hostile than placing it further east, and it would signal a strong US commitment to European security amid its clear focus on the Asia-Pacific region. As a ground-based fighting force, it is more useful to the European theater than to that region anyway. The White House has reportedly generated a graduated list of proportional responses to any Russian action, and this is a very big stick at its disposal and should be utilized if Putin takes further hostile action in Ukraine.”
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