President Joe Biden has given the green light for the Pentagon to mobilize up to 3,000 military reservists for deployment to Europe.
This decision, announced on Thursday, is seen as a measure to bolster U.S. forces in Europe, which currently stand at about 80,000 troops, according to The Washington Post. The move comes as the conflict in Ukraine surpasses 500 days, with Russian aggression showing no signs of abating.
The order allows for the activation of up to 450 troops from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a pool of service members nearing the end of their enlistment contracts who are not obligated to attend regular drills and training. Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, the director for operations on the Joint Staff, stated that these additional forces would enhance the department’s ability to support and sustain its increased presence and operations.
Sims further emphasized that this decision underscores the U.S.’s unwavering commitment to defending NATO’s eastern flank in the face of Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine. As part of this move, U.S. European Command’s Operation Atlantic Resolve will be designated as a “contingency operation,” which Sims said would benefit troops and their families with increased authorities, entitlements, and access to reserve component forces and personnel.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder explained that President Biden’s order would enable the call-up of National Guard or reserve forces to support Operation Atlantic Resolve, providing them with the same benefits as their active-duty counterparts.
This is not the first time the Biden administration has deployed additional service members to Eastern Europe. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, extra troops were sent to the region. While President Biden has consistently stated that he would not send troops into Ukraine to combat Russian forces, the U.S. has provided substantial aid, amounting to tens of billions of dollars, to assist Ukraine’s defensive efforts.
The latest order from President Biden follows a recent NATO summit in Vilnius, where he reiterated the U.S. and its allies’ commitment to supporting Ukraine. However, he also told CNN that Ukraine’s admission into the alliance would have to wait until the war in the country comes to an end.
Most recently, the U.S. sent cluster bombs to Ukraine, a type of munition banned by over 100 countries due to concerns about civilian safety. Despite this, President Biden defended the decision, arguing that the Ukrainian defenders were running out of ammunition and needed these weapons to halt the Russian offensive.