U.S. pledges high-end equipment for NATO rapid response force

MUENSTER, Germany - The United States said on Monday it would contribute special operations forces, intelligence and other high-end military assets to a new NATO rapid response force that aims in part to deter any future actions by Russia.

MUENSTERGermany  - The  United States  said on Monday it would contribute special operations forces, intelligence and other high-end military assets to a new NATO rapid response force that aims in part to deter any future actions by  Russia . U.S. Defense Secretary  Ash Carter  made the announcement during a trip to  Germany , where he delivered an address accusing  Moscow  of trying to re-create a Soviet-era sphere of influence.

"We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with  Russia . We do not seek to make  Russia  an enemy," Carter said in an address in  Berlin . "But make no mistake: we will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us all."

Russia 's intervention over  Ukraine  has put NATO allies in  eastern Europe  on edge and triggered a series of military moves by the NATO alliance, including an acceleration of exercises and the creation of a  Very High Readiness Joint Task Force  (VJTF).

Moscow  denies providing troops or arms to pro-Russian separatists in  eastern Ukraine . But neighboring NATO countries, especially the  Baltic states of LatviaLithuania  and  Estonia , fear  Russia  could foment trouble on their territories.

Carter, who met European members of the VJTF in  MuensterGermany , said he was preparing to discuss planned U.S. contributions to the force during his trip to  Brussels  later this week for talks with NATO defense ministers.


He said the U.S. support would include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets -- which can include drones or manned aircraft -- as well as special operations forces, logistical expertise and high-end U.S. military assets.

He also said it would include precision joint fire capabilities, which could include anything from land-based artillery to air support or naval firepower.

"We do so because the  United States  is deeply committed to the collective defense of  Europe ," he said as he made the announcement in  Muenster .

Although many of the contributions announced on Monday could be drawn from within  Europe , a defense official said the announcement could mean a temporary increase in U.S. forces in  Europe  in a crisis situation.

Still, U.S. defense officials stressed that the  United States  was mainly providing high-end support to enable European land forces that form the bulk of the VJTF.


During his trip this week, Carter will climb aboard a U.S. warship in  Estonia  fresh from  Baltic Sea  drills. He could offer more details in  Europe  this week on plans to pre-position heavy military equipment, officials say.

Moscow  has decried the new steps by NATO and threatened to strengthen its own forces and to add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear


arsenal this year.

U.S. officials say  Ukraine  has illustrated the importance of being able to counter "hybrid warfare", the blend of unidentified troops, propaganda and economic pressure that the West says  Russia  has used there.

Moscow  accuses the West of engineering the overthrow of a pro-Kremlin president last year in order to bring Kiev under its sway and try to isolate  Russia .

NATO's historic focus had been the conventional threats of the Cold War, which effectively ended with the collapse of the  Soviet Union  in 1991. But Carter said NATO "will not rely on the Cold War playbook", citing instead a combination of military and non-military tools, including sanctions.

He encouraged  Europe  to keep up its sanctions -- which he called the best tool -- for as long as it takes to change Russia 's calculations.

"The  United States  will not let  Russia  drag us back to the past," he said.

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