President Joe Biden has given authorization for up to 3,000 reserve troops to be prepared for deployment to Europe. This decision was announced in an order issued by President Biden, stating that the augmentation of the active Armed Forces is necessary for the effective conduct of Operation Atlantic Resolve in the United States European Command’s area of responsibility.
It is currently unclear whether the Pentagon intends to deploy the reservists in the near future. Operation Atlantic Resolve was initiated in 2014 as a response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The purpose of this operation is to provide combat-credible forces to Europe and enhance military readiness through rotational deployments of troops.
The significance of President Biden’s order lies in the fact that it designates Operation Atlantic Resolve as a contingency operation for the first time. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, the director of operations for the Joint Staff, stated during a press briefing that this designation brings several benefits to troops and their families, including increases in authorities, entitlements, and access to reserve component forces and personnel.
The executive order also reaffirms the United States’ unwavering support and commitment to the defense of NATO’s eastern flank following Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war on Ukraine. President Biden’s order sets limits on the units deployed, with a maximum of 3,000 total members at any given time. Out of these, up to 450 may be members of the Individual Ready Reserve, which encompasses soldiers who have recently left active duty but have contractual commitments or have transitioned to the reserves without being assigned to a specific unit.
Lt. Gen. Sims emphasized that the reservists being ordered to active duty are not additional forces but rather an augmentation of the existing forces. He explained that the decision on where these forces will be deployed ultimately lies with the U.S. European Command commander.
The U.S. European Command plans to utilize this new authority to uphold the nation’s commitment to NATO’s collective security, according to Navy Capt. Bill Speaks, the command’s spokesman. He stated that the authorities provided by President Biden’s order will ensure long-term resilience in the European Command’s presence and operations, without altering the current force-posture levels in Europe.
Lt. Gen. Sims further explained that the increased support requirements from the Pentagon are a result of the heightened troop presence and operations in the European Command’s area of operations. The new authorities granted by President Biden’s order will aid in sustaining the enhanced presence and levels of operations in Europe.
In addition to the deployment of reserve troops, the Biden administration has also made efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has provided over $40 billion in security assistance to the country. This includes the recent controversial decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine. These cluster munitions, which have already arrived, consist of bomblets released in midair to strike multiple targets simultaneously. While two-thirds of NATO countries have banned such weapons due to the potential for civilian casualties, the Biden administration has deemed them necessary for Ukraine’s defense.
These developments took place during the NATO summit in Lithuania, where President Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other G-7 leaders. At the summit, the G-7 leaders expressed joint support for Ukraine and emphasized their commitment to its defense and security. However, there has been frustration from President Zelenskyy regarding the lack of a specific timeline for Ukraine’s NATO membership. The United States’ national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, reiterated the administration’s stance that admitting Ukraine into NATO at this time could lead to a conflict with Russia.
Overall, President Biden’s authorization of reserve troops for deployment to Europe and the reaffirmation of support for Ukraine highlight the ongoing concerns regarding Russia’s actions and the commitment of the United States to European security.