Change Only Constant in European Command, General Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2004 Change is the only constant in U.S. European Command -- that's the not-so-subtle message of the organization's commander in prepared testimony for the House Armed Services Committee March 24.
Marine Gen. James L. Jones said that the command has been involved in the overall war on terrorism. It also is positioning itself to provide support in the future and help allies counter the growing terror threat.
"EUCOM's greatest contribution to security and stability lies as much in preventing conflict as it does in prevailing on the battlefield," Jones said in written testimony. "This is accomplished through influence and engaged leadership, and is sustained only through our enduring and visible presence and commitment."
Change is the constant. The general said many of the issues that now drive events in the region were impossible to predict. "Expanding theater security- cooperation requirements, an expanding NATO, instability in Africa and Eastern Europe and the global war on terrorism largely define ongoing changes and require a comprehensive review of EUCOM's theater strategy," he said. "Today's security environment has been fundamentally changed by enemies without territory, without borders and without fixed bases."
At the same time, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is changing also. Not only is the alliance expanding, but it is also seeking new capabilities many tied to U.S. capabilities. "A transformed NATO, with greater agility, capability, and a new vision for engagement outside its traditional area, will be an essential and more capable partner for the United States," he said. "We should welcome and fully support this historic change in the alliance."
Jones said the command must become more agile, lethal and responsive to face the threats of the 21st century. "(European Command) is ideally positioned to engage, disrupt, dismantle and prevent terrorists from using their lines of communication and methods of resourcing which are critical to their ability to both operate and sustain themselves," he said.
European Command's Strategic Theater Transformation Plan part of DoD's Global Posture Review will permit the command "to transform itself in such a way as to be better able to meet the diverse challenges of this new century," Jones said.
At its base, the plan calls for a fundamental realignment of basing concepts, access and force capabilities. The changes in both NATO and the command are needed and are mutually supporting, Jones said. "By its leadership and example, (European Command) supports both the alliance in its transformation as well as NATO member nations undergoing their own internal transformation."
In his testimony, Jones said the command will continue studies to reduce and realign "legacy" infrastructure in Europe. Many bases are leftovers of the Cold War, well suited for defending Western Europe, but for little else. Jones said the command also reassessed "the manner in which our forces are deployed and assigned to this theater from the United States."
This last included reorienting U.S. forces toward the southeast and south to more suitably reflect the command's expanding strategic responsibilities. "In addition to being joint, agile, sustainable and highly mobile, future forces operating in our region will be a combination of both permanently based and rotational units," he said.
The command is also looking at concepts that capitalize on innovation to maintain old capabilities and create new ones. "Simply put, the traditional military principle of 'mass' no longer equates to commitment or capability," the general said. "We will continue to re-tailor our forces based on an expeditionary model much better suited to meet the demands of the 21st century."
An expeditionary approach means new manning models. At its heart, the general foresees a series of smaller forward operating bases and forward operating locations strategically located throughout the region. "Such bases will be anchored to several existing joint main operating bases, which are of enduring strategic value and remain essential to theater force projection, throughput and sustainment," he said.
Prepositioning equipment and supplies will be a part of this effort. "This will augment this basing plan by allowing units to 'fall in' on essential equipment that will capitalize on the strategic advantage of being an 'ocean closer' to engagement, influence and conflict," he said. "This new basing plan will help effectively posture our forces, in order to counter current and future threats."
Of concern to the command are not only ongoing operations in Iraq, but the so- called "arc of instability" in its area of operations. Efforts may prevent terrorists from using the nations of that area as a safe haven. These include the Caucasus states, such as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Another such area is the Levant region: Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian territories and Syria. The third is "ungoverned" regions of North and West Africa.
Jones said due to successful operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorists "are moving into regions where nations already struggle with explosive population growth, resource scarcity, weak national institutions and ineffective militaries."