Jones Says Changes to U.S. Posture Will Strengthen Europe
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 24, 2004 The changes contemplated to the U.S. military posture in Europe will help strengthen the North Atlantic alliance and prepare the American military for the missions of the 21st century, the U.S. European Command chief said Sept. 23.
Marine Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., commander of U.S. European
Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, gives opening remarks to the
Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 23. Jones was at the Hart Senate
Office Building on Capitol Hill to give testimony on the global posture review
of U.S. military forces stationed overseas. Photo by Master Sgt. James M.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Gen. James Jones told the Senate Armed Services Committee that U.S. "proposals will increase the strategic effect of our forces who are assigned to operate on the European and African continents and in their contiguous waters."
The proposals will streamline the land, air and sea commands in the region. A number of U.S. units will return to the United States. "We have a historical opportunity, it seems to me, to adjust our basing and operating concepts in such a way as to make them much more capable and useful to our national coalition and alliance goals," Jones said.
The shifts will mean fewer troops in Europe, but those that remain there will be more agile and more lethal. Expeditionary forces that will rotate in and out of the area will augment the U.S. forces remaining in theater. Jones said special operations forces will become more important -- especially in sub- Saharan Africa. The timetable for the changes will depend on the changes recommended by the U.S. Base Realignment and Closure Commission, he said.
The command is looking to three basing concepts: main operating bases, forward operating sites and cooperative security locations. Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is an example of a main base. A forward operating site is a so-called "warm" base -- meaning there will be a small number of Americans at the base permanently, but the base could host sustained operations quickly. A cooperative security location might have pre-positioned equipment or supplies, but no Americans permanently based there.
Jones said that some elements of the military posture plan are already under way. European Command has already begun streamlining the Navy and Air Force commands in the theater. "We've conducted exercises in Eastern Europe to test a rotational concept," he said. "We're talking to our allies and friends and making sure that they understand the intent and how this is beneficial."
In Europe, the transformation is especially important, as European Command is a catalyst for NATO transformation, Jones said. "To me, one of the most important elements of transformation is the fact that the transformation of the services into more expeditionary forces means that we will have a greater strategic effect across a broader area, not just in Western Europe where we've been for 50 years," Jones said.
"In my theater, it's relatively straightforward to see that we will be engaged at greater distances to the east," he added. "And I believe that it's fair to say that there are upcoming challenges in the southern part of our area of responsibility, notably Africa, that are going to consume much of our time."
Jones said the United States has been discussing the proposals with a number of countries. "We have made some recommendations as to how we might proceed with regard to the types of presence that we might be able to implement in Eastern Europe," he said. "These are very attractive to us."
He said bases in the east would be expeditionary-type bases, not the main operating bases. The command should be able to identify the forward operating sites and cooperative security locations fairly quickly, Jones said.