Romania Ambassador to Washington, George Maior, in an interview with Politico, has reinforced the idea that it is likely that Americans will move a significant portion of US troops in Germany to the east and announced a possible visit by Defense Minister Mihai Fifor to USA for a meeting with his counterpart, Jim Mattis, where he will also promote Romania’s offer to host a permanent US military contingent in the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base.
Moving the German bases, an idea of the Trump administration
The idea of moving American bases from Germany arose before the last NATO summit in July when many publications speculated that it is a game of the US president to have a better negotiating base with Germany and other European countries on the idea of increasing the defense budget to 2 percent of GDP. Until now, US officials have not confirmed a decision and said regular reports are being made with possible troop deployments and related costs.
In Germany there are about 35,000 US troops, perhaps even more, with equipment needed to carry out military action: armored cars, aircraft of various types, tanks, etc. To these, you must add family members and contractors in the United States
Unlike the US bases in Romania, the permanent ones are real cities, with a military hospital, schools and shops, and those in Germany are also used for training before deploying troops in theaters of operations. They also play transport hubs, so moving these bases becomes an operational problem, not just a financial one.
What role could Romania have
American officials have always noted the human quality of the Romanian soldiers and Romania’s commitment to increasing military spending, but are these arguments enough to be eligible to establish a permanent US military base in our territory?
As Poland is in this race – it looks more likely, are Americans willing to split their troops in several countries, resulting in higher costs?
Now, US military forces have two military bases in Romania. The largest is that inMihail Kogalniceanu, used by the United States for armored and helicopter infantry structures, which are part of the US initiative to provide security to Europe în case of Russian aggressive policy, marine infantry, transport and logistics specialists.
Here, US military has constantly invested in infrastructure development and there are also the advantages of an airport with base access and proximity to Port of Constanta.
The second military base is Deveselu, which shelters the missile shield operated by American sailors.
American militaries are also in the three NATO headquarters in Romania and participants in various exercises or missions – such as air police.
All these structures are rotational, soldiers are staying for a short period of time, after which they are replaced, they are without families, and the infrastructure is a strict necessity.
As the shifting of troops and techniques and the construction of a permanent military base infrastructure entails high costs, the argument of the host country’s financial effort can be a determining factor in the discussions on the issue.
Because of this, officials from the Polish Ministry of Defense have already come up with a plan showing their country’s willingness to spend up to 2 billion euros to build a permanent US military base.
Poor infrastructure would be an obstacle
The question, however, is why a country would like permanent US military bases and what advantages would it have? Among the advantages that the host country would derive from the development of a permanent US military base on its territory, the most important would be an additional security guarantee that would ensure a prosperous business environment and attract foreign investments.
There are other advantages, such as the business and development opportunities of the neighboring communities, but also military ones that would enable joint training of Romanian and US troops on a wider scale, which would accelerate the interoperability process in many more areas.
In order to have success in the negotiations, let us hope that the Americans will make the decision to displace permanent contingents in the countries on the eastern flank of the alliance, depending on the host country’s availability and strategic arguments and not on other factors such as infrastructure development where Romania would be surely disadvantaged by the lack of motorways and the outdated state of some railway sections, which is clear from the Saber Guardian exercise in 2017, attended by approximately 25,000 allies and partners in Romania.