Open letter urges Congress and White House not to see the war in Ukraine as an excuse for mission creep of the worst kind.

May 23, 2022

Written by David Vine

With momentum building for Finland and Sweden to join NATO, don’t be surprised when calls for basing more U.S. military forces in Europe intensify leading up to NATO’s annual summit in June. Heeding such calls would be a grave and foolish error. Permanently installing new U.S. bases and troops in Europe would be militarily unnecessary, fiscally wasteful, and dangerously provocative amid sky-high tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.  

You can understand why some in Europe are calling for a U.S. buildup following Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Tiny Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are together about 1/100th the size of neighboring Russia. It’s no surprise that in March their presidents requested an increased U.S. and NATO presence in their countries and across Eastern Europe. 

With the Biden administration sending thousands of troops to Europe, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley backed new U.S. bases, telling Congress, “I believe a lot of our allies…are very willing to establish permanent bases…. They will build them and pay for them.” Some in Congress soon jumped on the bandwagon to permanently station more U.S. troops on the continent.

While fears about Russia among some in Europe are understandable, U.S. leaders shouldn’t let these fears shape our strategy. I’m one of more than 30 military experts and organizations sending an open letter to the Biden administration and Congress this week opposing any new U.S. military bases in Europe and offering smarter ways to support Ukrainian, U.S., and European security.