House members will have an opportunity for a closed-door meeting Thursday with Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove, who was previously scheduled to meet only with Senate lawmakers.
Gen. Breedlove was initially slated to testify in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee at a private hearing on the Ukranian crisis and Russia. Now he will add a briefing for those House Armed Services Committee members and staffers who have a top-secret security clearance, according to a congressional source.
Last time he was in Washington, Gen. Breedlove met solely with the House Armed Services Committee’s Republican lawmakers, inadvertently kicking up a political hornet’s nest. This time, Republicans and Democrats were invited to the closed-door briefing, according to the source.
After Gen. Breedlove’s March visit, there was some discrepancy among lawmakers and Pentagon officials as to whether the number of Russian troops participating in military exercises along the Ukraine border was around 40,000 or 80,000.
A senior Pentagon official clarified the figure Monday. Every soldier with a gun has about two or three people in the rear echelons to support them — a figure that could expand the Pentagon’s calculation for troops to the higher number that unnerved some lawmakers about a month ago, the official said.
“We know that the Russians, should they choose, have the ability to reinforce what they’ve already positioned along the border,” the official said.