Yesterday May 2, 2007, the Romanian Parliament adopted with a comfortable majority a resolution allowing for the stationing of US troops in the country. U.S. forces will use “Mihail Kogalniceanu” air base as well as several Romanian training ranges such as: Babadag, Smardan and Cincu. These troop redeployments are a part of the new basing strategy by the Pentagon which will put U.S. forces near to the theatres of operations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and will allow for far more flexible deployments for American troops around the world. The importance of these bases for U.S operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan is revealed by the forward operating bases status given to them by the Pentagon.
The factors that have weighed heavily in favour of this redeployment are the geographical proximity of Romania to the theatres of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fact that Romania proved to be a reliable ally of the United States by giving its support in the War on Terror. Furthermore basing U.S. forces in Romania strengthens the position of the United States in its relations with Russia, practically confirming U.S. victory in the Cold War. The United States has now access to the best port facility on the Black Sea (the air force base at “Mihail Kogalniceanu” is actually near the outskirts of the port city of Constanta) and is pretty certain that the U.S. will extend its political as well as military reach in the Black Sea region. Romania is not only country in the region to be receiving U.S. bases and troops on its territory – Bulgaria will also play host to such bases. These redeployments of U.S. forces to South Eastern Europe and the shores of the Black Sea are radically transforming the security and political dynamics of this region.
Romania has only to gain from such a deployment of U.S. military strength. Although the new bases will not be as large as the bases used by American forces in the Cold War in Western and Central Europe, they will be enough to ensure the security of Romania. Make no mistake about this: Romania has actively been searching, in the last years at least, to ally itself with the U.S. and the basing of American forces in the country represents a major foreign policy success. Romania required the presence of U.S. forces in order to protect itself from the possible revival of Russian influence and also in order to gain a higher profile in a region marked by instability, petty rivalries and frozen conflicts. Moreover Romania will be now be protected from possible threats coming from the Middle East in the form NBC weapons and their means of delivery, as the U.S. deployment will be protected by ballistic missile defences.
The deployment however will likely make Romania’s relations with Russia difficult as the latter does not like to see the United States encroaching in what was its backyard during the Cold War. However there is little Russia can do now against Romania or U.S. forces in the region. Such a redeployment of U.S. forces will make Romania a possible target for terrorists, as these bases will be used primarily in the War on Terror, however it also worth mentioning that in Romania no major terrorist attack occurred in the last two decades. A greater risk comes from the possible development of NBC weapons in the Middle East and the proliferation of their means of delivery; however an attack against Romania is unlikely to succeed so long as the country is protected by U.S. ballistic missile defences.