James Stavridis, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, described on Monday how the US can turn Europe into Putin’s nightmare following his invasion of Ukraine.
Writing in Bloomberg, the Greek-American Vice Chairman of the Carlyle Group, an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services corporation, says that Putin’s Ukraine invasion can become his worst nightmare if the US and its NATO allies move their combat power right on his border. “This is exactly what he doesn’t want.”
The former NATO chief said that the European Command has nearly 100,000 US military personnel — some stationed permanently, others rotating in and out — spread over 51 countries and 21 million square miles.
“It is clearly time to move more combat power to the eastern borders of the alliance, out of the comfortable garrisons in Belgium, southwestern Germany, northern Italy and the US,” he says in his opinion piece in Bloomberg.
Stavridis: Move US forces to Poland, Baltic States
“Doing so will militarily discourage any further Russian adventurism, particularly along the borders of NATO; encourage allies and partners in the east, notably the Baltic states and Poland; and send a strong diplomatic and political signal to Putin that his attack on Ukraine will only energize the alliance for more operations,” he notes.
Stavridis argues that the best place to move additional US combat power is to Poland, which is now a frontline state.
“(Poland’s) size and military capability, and its long and troubled history with Russia make it the obvious choice for a permanent presence to include a three-star lieutenant general commanding a corps headquarters and reporting directly to European Command,” he says.
Additional locations for ground forces would be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the edge of the Baltic Sea.
This should include squadrons of fighter aircraft coupled with Army brigade combat teams, and the Baltic states have all indicated enthusiasm to host such units, Stavridis says.
NATO and the US can squeeze Putin and Russia
“Looking to the southeastern region of the alliance, additional combat power in Romania would be a good choice. A geographically large nation, the Romanians are staunch supporters of NATO, expert intelligence collectors, already host a missile-defense outpost, and possess a fine port in Constanta on the Black Sea,” he adds.
“In terms of additional rotational forces (as opposed to permanent basing as described above), an interesting possibility would be Finland and/or Sweden.”
Stavridis and his Greek roots
Stavridis’ paternal grandparents were Asia Minor Greeks, who immigrated to the United States after they were forced out of their homes by the Turks following the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922.
In his 2008 book “Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command,” Stavridis wrote:
“In the early 1920s, my grandfather, a short, stocky Greek schoolteacher named Dimitrios Stavridis, was expelled from Turkey as part of ‘ethnic cleansing’ (read pogrom) directed against Greeks living in the remains of the Ottoman Empire. He barely escaped with his life in a small boat crossing the Aegean Sea to Athens and thence to Ellis Island. His brother was not so lucky and was killed by the Turks as part of the violence directed at the Greek minority.”
In a recent interview with Greek Reporter he said that he is still very connected to Greece. “I have many friends in the Greek government, in the Greek military and I try to stay on top of Greek issues so I can be helpful to Greece here in the U.S.”
His Greek heritage has given him three Greek qualities, he says:
“First the love of education, a love of learning, a love of books; secondly, the concept of filotimo, of honor, of caring, of doing the right thing; and thirdly, optimism,” Stavridis says.