Does ‘America first’ really mean ‘Europe first’ in the preparation for war with Russia?
At the expense of the American taxpayer, the Trump administration wants to restore the Cold War-era footprint in Europe through massive investments in military infrastructure to deter “Russian aggression” and reinforce allies.
It is odd that the administration wants to spend massive amounts of money on infrastructure projects in Europe, but has yet to fix America’s crippling D- infrastructure. Somehow, the priorities of this administration of ‘America first’ have been lost through the alignment with the military-industrial-complex and Washington’s warmongers.
The Trump administration asked for $828 million in 2019 to expand and upgrade military infrastructure projects throughout Europe as part of a continuous fearmongering campaign against Russia to allocate more money to defense. Nearly half of that construction funding would go towards U.S. Air Force projects.
The request for additional funding would more than double the military’s infrastructure projects under the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), from the 2018 request, when just a few years ago, the Pentagon was scaling back its Cold War-era footprint in Europe.
According to Defense News, the EDI request increased to $6.5 billion from $4.8 billion in 2018, military construction projects in the EDI request jumped from $338 million in 2018, while pre-positioning funds soared from $2.2 billion to $3.2 billion.
The Air Force would spend roughly $368.6 million to pre-position equipment and $363.8 million for military construction projects. While the spending is almost equal to what was expensed in fiscal 2018, it is a huge jump from 2017, when the Air Force was only allotted $31.2 million in pre-positioning funds and $85.4 million for military construction.
What is the reasoning behind the increased military infrastructure spending in Europe?
Well, it is the idea if Russia invaded a NATO ally — the U.S. Air Force will have the tools to instantly respond to the threat, supported by upgraded airfields to reload munitions, higher capacity refueling stations, and more engineering bays to service damaged aircraft.
Areas of focus include Air Force assets in NATO countries, like Germany and the United Kingdom, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Defense News notes that the Trump administration is not planning on constructing new airbases in former Soviet bloc countries, but it is upgrading existing infrastructure to ensure its fifth-generation fighter jets, drones, and other aircraft are adequately prepared for the next round of hybrid wars.
“It makes it easier to reinforce [allies] in a crisis,” said Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps officer and senior international security adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The munitions, the taxiways and refueling points makes it much easier to move in there in an emergency,” Cancian added.
During congressional testimony in March, U.S. European Command chief Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti confirmed the plans of a rapid military infrastructure program in Europe. He told U.S. lawmakers that the FY’18 and FY’19 budget requests would “enable the rapid reception of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, close-air support, bombers and air mobility aircraft in a contingency.”
Near the Russian border in Estonia, the 2018 budget request has funded significant upgrades for refueling infrastructure and a fighter aircraft parking and taxiway at Amari Air Base. The Trump administration wants more Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft stationed at Amari Air Base to counter Russia. The FY’19 budget also wants a $16 million Special Operations Command training and operations facilities at the airbase.
At Kecskemet Air Base, in Hungary, the administration wanted $56 million in 2018 to upgrade fuel storage, airstrip construction, and other improvements to support the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft.
At the Malacky Air Base, in Slovakia, the FY’19 budget asks for a large munitions storage facility, where FY’18 budget asked for tactical fighter aircraft parking for the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II and McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Piecing together the puzzle, the new munitions storage facility could store laser-guided bombs and missiles.
“Across the board, I think there’s a recognition that we took our eye off the ball, and now that we want to increase our deterrence capabilities, we’re seeing deficiencies, and we’re correcting them,” said retired Gen. Frank Gorenc, who served as the Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe; Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa; Commander, Allied Air Command; and Director, Joint Air Power Competence Center.
“And while those airfield improvements may appear mundane, the ability to operate in such a distributed fashion across Europe gives the U.S. Air Force real capability, both as a deterrent and in a potential conflict,” he told Defense News.
“That’s not sexy stuff, but for an airman, there’s nothing more exciting than an airfield that is actually capable of generating high-volume combat operations with fuel and weapons and those kinds of things,” Gorenc said.
He added, “And I can assure you there’s so much work to be done in those areas, that have to be done, that have been facilitated by that extra funding. It’s really exciting.”
The FY’19 EDI request also shows the Trump administration wanting to allocate large sums of taxpayers dollars to upgrade the largest U.S. Air Force bases in Europe: Ramstein, Germany, and Royal Air Force Fairford, U.K. The EDI also specifies a number of construction projects to upgrade logistics across all domains, such as ammunition storage, staging areas, rail improvements, bulk fuel facilities, and airfield and port improvements.
The aggressive spending of Air Force investments across Europe could be due to service’s footprint is at a low point, “down to some 34,000 personnel, six main operating bases and 204 aircraft ― from 72,000 personnel, 25 main operating bases and 805 aircraft during the 1990s,” said Defense News.
Amid the threats of a Russian invasion of Europe, the U.S. Air Force is preparing to repel Russian forces, provide adequate air support to NATO allies, and attempt to seize the militarized Russian enclave Kaliningrad.
Not too long ago, Moscow deployed the nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the region. So, it would make sense that Moscow is creating a nuclear umbrella around Kaliningrad to deter NATO from an invasion.
What you see is a realization that you can’t defend Eastern Europe from Western Europe,” Cancian said. “If all your forces are in Germany and in an emergency, you try to rush them east, it’s just going to take too long. Just doing the paperwork [from Germany to Poland] takes a week. It’s clearly better to have your forces in Eastern Europe to start with.”
While it seems the Trump administration is quickly preparing for war with Russia through massive military infrastructure projects in Europe, it has been quite obvious that the priorities of ‘America first’ through investments in domestic infrastructure projects are nowhere to be seen.
War is coming, just follow the taxpayers’ money to Europe.