EUCOM Commander Describes Overseas Basing Priorities
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2005 The top U.S. general in Europe supports plans to reshape the U.S. force structure overseas and said it's a critical step in ensuring the U.S. military is prepared to face new and emerging threats.
Forward presence of U.S. troops, both permanent and rotational, will continue to be an essential component of U.S. national strategy, Marine Gen. James L. Jones, commander of U.S. European Command, said in a statement issued today.
"But static forward-based forces, such as those needed during the Cold War, do not provide the capability required in the complex and asymmetric world we now face," he said.
Jones delivered his comments in response to the report of the Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure of the United States, released May 9. The report charged that the global posturing process is moving forward too quickly and could leave gaps in capabilities and quality-of-life programs.
"Our center of attention has shifted from the defense of Western Europe from attack toward a variety of new threats from non-state actors and organizations from the eastern and southern regions of our theater," Jones said. This requires adjusting the country's 20th-century defense posture, which Jones called "too linear and geographically constrained," to meet the new challenges.
"No longer can we wait for our enemies to attack us," he said. "We must be able to prevent them from doing so by being both visible and flexible in order to prevent, deter and contain emerging contingencies."
Transformation efforts under way and being planned are designed to increase the country's strategic effectiveness by making military forces more rapidly deployable, he said. At the same time, these forces will be increasingly visible to both friends and foes in U.S. European Command's vast, 91-nation theater, Jones said.
"Our proposed force mix, which will be a combination of permanently based and rotational land, sea, air and special forces, supported by readily available and strategically pre-positioned equipment stocks, will provide us with the required operational agility necessary for our future missions," he said.
Jones said the command is working closely with the Defense and State Departments and with U.S. allies about overseas basing plans being considered and has "received assurances of allies' support and understanding."
Many of these allies, he pointed out, are currently involved in transforming their own national forces while participating in NATO's "most profound transformation of its military capability in its history."
U.S. European Command's plan regarding overseas basing "is both flexible and open to change in its specifics," and may undergo more changes, Jones said.
Jones acknowledged that change is difficult for those affected but pledged to look out for servicemembers and their families as the global posturing plans take effect.
"The prospect of change always brings with it a certain degree of apprehension, and this is true for our EUCOM families during this most difficult and stressful period," he said. "We will honor our commitment to them by pledging that implementation of any part of our plan, no matter how large or small, will not bring undue hardship upon them, nor will it adversely affect the quality of their lives. What ... we will do in implementing our transformation plan is very important. How we will do it is even more so."