As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, President Biden has moved to authorize up to 3,000 reservists to augment U.S. forces in Europe.
This decision comes amidst a recruiting crisis faced by the military in recent years, with the Pentagon admitting that the Army, Navy, and Air Force are expected to fall short of their 2023 recruitment targets. In contrast, the Marine Corps, looking to add 29,000 recruits in 2023, is predicted to meet its goals.
This military reinforcement decision comes in the wake of Russia’s private military company, the Wagner Group, reportedly resettling thousands of its fighters in Belarus, an action that has heightened concerns about NATO’s eastern flank’s vulnerability. The escalating conflict and uncertainty in the region led to an increase of 20,000 U.S. troops in Europe since the Ukraine war began.
The order allows members of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) to be called to active duty “for the effective conduct of Operation Atlantic Resolve in and around the United States European Command’s area of responsibility.” Despite their non-active status, members of the IRR are under contract to be activated by a presidential order and may be deployed to replace soldiers in active duty and Army Reserve units, according to the Army.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby emphasized the strategic importance of this move, stating that “the president knows that the security environment in Europe has changed. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the proper force posture to support an additional eastern flank presence for the long haul.” While some see the decision as linked to the recruitment crisis, a Pentagon spokesperson has clarified that the move to call up reserves “was not related to recruiting.”
As the situation unfolds, the focus remains on ensuring the security of NATO allies and supporting Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia, underscored by President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s joint support declaration at the G-7 summit in Lithuania.