Opinion: Georgia at the tip of the spear

While U.S. troops are not on the ground inside Ukraine, the Pentagon is making sure American and NATO military forces are ready in case Russia strikes at NATO allies in the region.

“We are witnessing a generational moment,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, the top U.S. military commander in Europe, who called NATO’s support for Ukraine a ‘historic demonstration of unity and will.’

One part of that came from Georgia’s Fort Stewart, where the 3rd Infantry Division swiftly sent soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team to bolster U.S. forces in Europe — just in case.

“We were able to deploy the entirety of an armored brigade combat team from Georgia in the United States to Germany in just one week,” Gen. Wolters told a U.S. Senate hearing this week.

“That level of speed and agility is unmatched,” the General said, with a distinct note of pride in his voice, coming at the same time that military logistics experts have been surprised at the troubles encountered by Russia in pushing troops towards the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

But even as the war drags on, lawmakers say it would be wrong to think that Ukraine is the sole target of the Russian regime.

“Vladimir Putin had no intention of stopping in Ukraine,” warned U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton.

At a House hearing this week, Scott said the U.S. cannot ignore other places where the Russians have based their troops and/or forcibly taken territory — like Transnistria in Moldova and South Ossetia in Georgia (the country).

“Russia is still across the border in other countries,” Scott said. “We need to restore the integrity of those territorial boundaries as well.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also sparked new support in Congress for the idea of again basing more U.S. soldiers in Europe.

For example, Poland not only wants a permanent U.S. military base, but the Polish government has even offered to pay up to $2 billion to build those facilities to host American forces.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a country willing to pay for it,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala.

The idea is simple — instead of leaving U.S. troops based at Fort Stewart in Georgia or any other military base at home — have them in Poland, the Baltics, Romania, and other Eastern European nations that fear Russian advances.

It’s a big switch from Donald Trump’s plan to make big cuts in U.S. force levels in Europe.

“Many of us never anticipated a land war in Europe again,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who said Putin had made a major mistake. “He has unified Republicans and Democrats.”

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com