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the great return of the American army in Europe

At the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday March 24.

This is one of the major consequences of the war in Ukraine, relatively in the background until now, the sign of a sudden and unexpected strategic change of footing on the part of the world’s leading military power. The reinforcement, in recent weeks, of the military presence of the United States in Europe, with the symbolic threshold of 100,000 prepositioned men crossed, was to be particularly highlighted during the NATO summit, Thursday, March 24, in Brussels, in the presence of Joe Biden. A summit that is part of a diplomatic marathon, the American president being expected the same day at a meeting of the G7 and the European Union, then in Poland on Friday.

While for many years the United States had been engaged in a discreet withdrawal of its forces from the Old Continent in order to redeploy them in the Indo-Pacific, faced with the rise of Chinese economic and military expansionism, with the escalation of tensions between kyiv and Moscow, between January and March, around 20,000 American soldiers were sent back to European soil. An increase of 25% in a few weeks, which brings the military presence of the United States in Europe to a level that the latter had not known for more than fifteen years, and which represents approximately a third of its presence at the exit of the Cold War.

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On a strictly accounting basis, the Pentagon has always had a high number of troops in Europe, especially in Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Poland. US bases stretch from Bulgaria to Greenland, from Greece to Finland. Before the war in Ukraine, the American army, which is a mass army (1.4 million active soldiers), had some 67,000 soldiers permanently positioned in these various places – a figure to which were added 13 000 men from complementary rotating units.

“Rising Tide”

But in barely three months, these numbers have returned to their 2005 level, when the United States was engaged in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Their exact distribution is deliberately left relatively unclear by the Pentagon. However, it appears that most of the reinforcements that have arrived since January have gone to Poland, where more than 10,000 American soldiers are now officially deployed (an increase of more than 7,000). About 2,500 soldiers are also now divided between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, while some 1,500 men are now stationed in Slovakia, 350 in Bulgaria and 200 in Hungary.

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