The Biden administration plans to forward deploy two more destroyers to Spain among other force posture changes as part of the updated NATO Strategic Concept, the White House said on Tuesday.

On June 28, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters the U.S. was making announcements of additional long term force posture commitments as President Biden headed to Madrid, Spain for a NATO Summit that resulted in approving a new NATO Strategic Concept.

Sullivan said the U.S. will boost the number of

Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers in Rota, Spain from four to six.

“Those will help increase the United States’ and NATO’s maritime presence and all the relevant maritime domains in the Euro-Atlantic area.  But that will be just the first of several specific announcements,” he said.

The U.S. currently bases the USS Ross (DDG-71), Roosevelt (DDG-80), Porter (DDG-78), and Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) there. The ships are meant, in part, to help defend Europe from potential ballistic missile threats arising from Iran as part of the Obama administration’s 2011 European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe.


Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the Rota-based ships would regularly operate in the Black Sea on deterrence missions after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Since the invasion in February, none of the Spain-based destroyers have entered the Black Sea.

It is not clear which additional ships will deploy and exactly when they will change homeports.

On June 17, the Navy announced the USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) arrived at Naval Station Rota to become the newest ship in the four-ship Forward Deployed Naval Forces- Europe group. At the time, the Navy did not say which ship DDG-117 was replacing.

Beyond the destroyers, the Biden administration said the U.S. will establish a permanent headquarters for the 5th Army Corps; maintain a rotational force presence in Poland to include an armored brigade combat team, combat aviation brigade element and a division headquarters element; add a rotational brigade combat team to Romania that will have the ability to deploy subordinate elements; deploy two more F-35 squadrons to the U.K. at RAF Lakenheath; enhance rotational deployment and training in and with the Baltic member states; and deploy more air defense, logistics and engineer assets to Germany and air defense capabilities to forces in Italy.

The new 5th Army Corps headquarters will consist of a forward command post, Army garrison headquarters and a field support battalion, the administration said.

These changes are in addition to earlier deployments and movements after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, including airborne forces moving from Italy to eastern European NATO members, Stryker units deployed to border countries, F-15s moved from the U.K. to Poland and Patriot batteries posted to Slovakia and Poland.

In a Wednesday call with reporters, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander underscored the non-ground forces capabilities in the new posture decisions.

“And there are many I could point to in the factsheet, but I would also point to the significant air defense and air domain capabilities that will come along with these new posture changes to support the broader package of U.S. combat credibility in the NATO [Area of Operation].”

Upon meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Madrid on June 29, Biden said the new strategic concept is “sending an unmistakable message, in my view — and I think yours as well — that NATO is strong, united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit are going to further augment our collective strength.”

“Together, our Allies — we’re going to make sure that NATO is ready to meet threats from all directions, across every domain: land, air, and the sea. In a moment when Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenets of the rules-based order, the United States and our Allies — we’re going to step up.  We’re stepping up. We’re proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and it’s as important as it has ever been,” he added.

Stoltenberg said the Strategic Concept is a blueprint for NATO going forward and he referred to it as an agreement on “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense deterrence since the end of the Cold War.”

This is the first update to the concept since 2010, which describes how NATO intends to address threats and challenges in its environment going forward.

According to a White House fact sheet released on Wednesday, the new Strategic Concept “outlines NATO’s transformation in line with the NATO 2030 agenda adopted at the 2021 Summit. It will also guide efforts to safeguard Euro-Atlantic security in response to Russia’s aggression, as well as the systemic challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China, and the deepening strategic partnership between Russia and China. The Strategic Concept outlines NATO’s core tasks as deterrence and defense, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security.”

The Strategic Concept itself notes that “we will significantly strengthen our deterrence and defense posture to deny any potential adversary any possible opportunities for aggression. To that end, we will ensure a substantial and persistent presence on land, at sea, and in the air, including through strengthened integrated air and missile defense.”

“We will deter and defend forward with robust in-place, multi-domain, combat-ready forces, enhanced command and control arrangements, prepositioned ammunition and equipment and improved capacity and infrastructure to rapidly reinforce any Ally, including at short or no notice. We will adjust the balance between in-place forces and reinforcement to strengthen deterrence and the Alliance’s ability to defend. Commensurate with the threats we face, we will ensure our deterrence and defense posture remains credible, flexible, tailored and sustainable,” the NATO document continued.

While the Strategic Concept did not point to any specific naval-related actions going forward akin to the increase in Rota-based destroyers, it argued that maritime security is key to peace and prosperity.

“We will strengthen our posture and situational awareness to deter and defend against all threats in the maritime domain, uphold freedom of navigation, secure maritime trade routes and protect our main lines of communications,” the document said.

The summit in Madrid convened all 30 NATO member state’s leaders as well as partners in Europe and Asia.

The White House fact sheet said nine NATO members will meet or exceed the commitment to spend at least two percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense spending. 

“Nine Allies will meet or exceed this commitment this year, 19 Allies have clear plans to meet it by 2024, and an additional five Allies have made concrete commitments to meet it thereafter. By the end of 2022, European Allies and Canada will have spent an additional $350 billion on defense in real terms since 2014,” the White House noted.

The summit also included the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea for the first time.