We are reinforcing our posture in Europe to support our NATO allies in the face of Russia’s aggression. In Pentagon parlance, this is called the European Reassurance Initiative and after requesting about $800 million for last year, this year we’re more than quadrupling it for a total of $3.4 billion in 2017.
That will fund a lot of things: more rotational US forces in Europe, more training and exercising with our allies, more preposition and war-fighting gear and infrastructure improvements to support all this.
And when combined with US forces already in and assigned to Europe – which are also substantial – all of this together by the end of 2017 will let us rapidly form a highly capable combined arms ground force that can respond across that theater, if necessary.
Russia and China are our most stressing competitors. They have developed and are continuing to advance military system[s] that seek to threaten our advantages in specific areas. And in some case[s], they are developing weapons and ways of wars that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before they hope, we can respond.
Because of this and because of their actions to date, from Ukraine to the South China Sea, DOD has elevated their importance in our defense planning and budgeting.
While we do not desire conflict of any kind with either of these nations – and let me be clear.