Biden Admin Denies NBC Report on Euro-Force Drawdown | National Review

Biden Admin Denies NBC Report on Euro-Force Drawdown | National Review

AH-64 Apaches with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade launch from Katterbach Army Airfield for a battalion attack training mission during Operation Eminent Strike in Katterbach, Germany, March 17, 2021. (Major Robert Fellingham/US Army)

NBC reported this afternoon that the Biden administration is prepping a potential plan to scale back U.S. forces in Europe, according to “a current administration official and two former U.S. national security officials familiar with the planning.” If it’s true, the administration is mulling over steps that would leave America’s allies in Europe more vulnerable to Russian coercion; the news is likely to be seen as nothing less than a significant betrayal.

But the Biden administration is now saying that NBC’s report is “not accurate.”

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

The administration “is compiling a list of options for force posture changes in Europe to discuss with Russia at the talks,” an administration official said. If Russia appears willing to discuss scaling back its presence in the region, the U.S. will be prepared to discuss specific moves, the official said.

For any change in the U.S. military presence in Europe, Russia would have to take reciprocal, equivalent steps to scale back its forces, and pulling back Russian troops from Ukraine would not be sufficient, the current official and former officials said.

If accurate, the piece reveals that the administration is mulling steps that America’s allies in the region would consider as nothing less than abandonment. The report set off a political feeding frenzy at home, offering up fodder with which to attack the administration’s already-lackluster approach to dealing with Moscow.

The White House’s initial comments to NBC in the piece didn’t deny the report: “We don’t know what next week’s conversations will bring,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council told NBC. But later in the afternoon, senior officials issued flat-out denials.

These officials are taking an unequivocal tone. One immediate question, then, is why NSC didn’t provide such a denial on the record when NBC asked for comment. Presumably, the portion of NSC’s response calling NBC’s reporting “not accurate” was off the record when the journalists reached out, since it wasn’t included in the piece. Why?

Maybe NBC got it wrong, but the administration does have a knack for issuing lawyerly non-denials to manage the fallout of otherwise solid stories.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.