European Command Transforming to Accommodate New Challenges
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2006 U.S. European Command is actively engaged in a diverse and expansive area of responsibility while transforming to better meet the challenges of a changing security landscape, the command's leader said yesterday.
The command maintains operational responsibility for Europe and most of Africa.
"Progress toward a more peaceful and prosperous world in this century is (dependent) on recognizing the new array of challenges that clearly threaten our common interests," Marine Gen. James L. Jones said in a prepared statement to the House Armed Services Committee. "To ensure success in our goals of advancing common security in the 21st century, we must adjust our tactics correspondingly in order to counter the new array of threats."
A top challenge is terrorism, Jones said. Currently the primary fronts in the war on terrorism are Iraq and Afghanistan. The command's current and future impact on this front is a point of strategic interest, he said. An increasing number of foreign fighter support to both areas originates from, trains in and moves through the command's area of responsibility, he added.
"There is evidence that terrorist efforts may eventually shift from Iraq and Afghanistan to Northern Africa and Western Europe as experienced fighters return from the Middle East," Jones said. "The time to prepare for this strategic transition is now."
While terrorism is a new threat for the United States, many European nations have dealt with it for years, he said. While the United States and European nations may differ in their views on how to combat it successfully, they do share one like thought: Terrorism is a threat to all.
European Command officials are using a regional approach to be able to respond to a wide variety of contingencies.
For instance, the Caspian Guard Initiative is a framework program designed to coordinate activities in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan with those of U.S. Central Command and other U.S government agencies to enhance Caspian security, Jones said. The initiative assists the two countries in improving their ability to prevent and, if needed, respond to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, drug and human trafficking, and other transnational treats in the Caspian region. Kazakhstan is part of Central Command's area of responsibility, while EUCOM is responsible for operations in Azerbaijan.
European Command also employs security cooperation activities to shape the future security environment, spread democratic values, and develop nations' potential, Jones said.
Jones called the International Military Education and Training program "our most powerful security cooperation tool" he said the program exposes foreign military and civilian leaders to U.S. military training, builds relationships, facilitates access, and builds influence.
Jones' command also uses the National Guard State Partnership Program to reach out to developing nations. This program links U.S. states and territories with designated partner countries. It promotes access, enhances the countries' military capabilities, improves interoperability, and advances the principles of reasonable governance, Jones said.
"We attach great value to our programs offering multinational educational activities," he said. "They foster the professional development of emerging civilian and military leaders, reinforce ideals of democratic governance and stable apolitical militaries, and facilitate long-term dialogue with and among future international leaders."
Jones said the objective remains constant: to enhance the United States' strategic effect and operational agility by investing in "a number of critically important areas, such as military construction, security cooperation programs, and out theater intelligence structure."
Jones also discussed the command's request for foreign military financing in the fiscal 2007 budget. This year's foreign military financing request for countries in Jones' area of responsibility totals about $2.5 billion. More than 90 percent of which is earmarked for Israel, he said.
The future of EUCOM is as critical as ever to the implementation of our nation's policies and our commitment to the forward defense of freedom, Jones said in conclusion. "As we further refine the nature and scope of our efforts to implement an effective security strategy, we would do well to reflect and appreciate the value of our leadership role in global affairs," he said.