Estonian soldiers take part in a NATO military exercise at the Tapa training range in Estonia, May 2015.
Ints Kalnins / REUTERS

On a trip to Europe last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter made two important announcements. First, on June 22, Carter revealed that the United States would contribute special operations forces, weaponry, and surveillance aircraft to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, a rapid response team of some 5,000 troops. The next day, in Tallinn, Estonia, Carter announced that the United States would pre-position military equipment, including 250 tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery, across several central and eastern European countries, among them Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

Both of these steps aim to strengthen Europe’s defenses

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