The Administration today announced an FY2017 Department of Defense funding request of $3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). This request, which quadruples last year’s ERI funding level, represents a significant augmentation of our efforts to ensure peace and security in Europe. Over the past two years, the United States has increased military activities in Eastern and Central Europe to reassure allies and partners of our commitment to their security and territorial integrity. The persistent, rotational U.S. air, land, and sea presence in the region provided for by ERI funding began following the Russian occupation of Crimea and continues today. In June 2014, President Obama announced the ERI to increase U.S. force presence in Europe, expand exercises and training with NATO Allies and partners, and augment prepositioned equipment for use in joint exercises. Allies reinforced these efforts at the September 2014 NATO Summit in Wales when they agreed to the Readiness Action Plan, which included a series of assurance and adaptation activities to enhance NATO’s defense posture and increase allied readiness and responsiveness. The ERI budget request for 2016 of nearly $800 million, which Congress fully supported, provides continued U.S. participation in assurance activities and additional steps to build the resilience and capability of allies and partners.
The FY2017 ERI request marks a significant upgrade of these efforts and is intended not only to continue assurance measures but also to enable a quicker and more robust response in support of NATO’s common defense. ERI funding will enable the United States to expand and deepen activities within five established lines of effort:
- Increase Presence: The United States will maintain its commitment to a persistent rotational presence of air, land, and sea forces in Central and Eastern Europe for training. In order to enhance deterrence, the United States will also augment its force presence in Europe through continuous U.S. armored brigade rotations.
- Conduct Additional Bilateral and Multilateral Exercises and Training: In addition to increased presence, the enhanced U.S. force presence in Europe will enable more extensive U.S. participation in exercises and training activities with NATO allies and partners, improving overall readiness and interoperability.
- Enhance Prepositioning: As announced in June 2015, the European Activity Set (EAS), which includes one U.S. armored brigade combat team’s vehicles and associated equipment, is being prepositioned on the territory of several NATO allies, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, in order to support exercises and training throughout Europe. The FY2017 request will place additional Army Prepositioned Stock (APS) in Europe. These additional combat vehicles and supplies are intended to reduce force deployment times and enable a rapid response to potential contingencies.
- Improve Infrastructure: Improvements throughout Europe on installations such as airfields, training centers, and ranges, will improve allied military readiness in the region and provide for quick dispersal of forces if required.
- Build the Capacity of Allies and Partners: ERI funding will continue to build the capacity of Central and Eastern European allies and partners to defend themselves and enable their full participation as operational partners in responding to crises in the region.
A list of U.S. military efforts to date under the President’s European Reassurance Initiative can be found at: http://www.eucom.mil/operation-atlantic-resolve