Improve NATO forces now

President Trump has asked Europe’s allies to pay their fair share of defense costs, and started efforts to rebuild Europe’s military readiness as NATO is standing up, lethal military aid is going to Ukraine and U.S. energy is going to Europe as an alternative to Gazprom.

If NATO were attacked now, only several thousand of the 1-million-plus troops in the European armies would be ready. Allied leaders are now working to meet U.S. plans to increase readiness so that at least 30,000 troops, with additional aircraft and war ships, can reach trouble points within 30 days of being alerted by NATO commanders.

The United States has asked NATO to develop faster decision-making abilities, improve mobility and increase the number of units ready to deploy on short notice. The U.S. proposal asks the alliance to commit to having 30 battalions, 30 fighter squadrons and 30 warships ready to deploy, totaling at least 30,000 troops and 360 fighter aircraft.

Mr. Trump’s questions last year about NATO readiness resulted in 4,600 troops being deployed to the Baltic states and Poland, with an additional 10-day reaction team as back up. These forces need backup from the planned 30 battalions, which have a mission to not engage in prolonged combat, but to secure the area long enough to provide access for much larger reinforcements.

Large-scale ability by NATO to reinforce has to be improved, as now its capacity is lacking with regard to reinforcements for sustained combat. Building up NATO’s ready forces will strengthen its deterrent efforts and front-line allied troops will slow any incursion by Russian forces.

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