Continued Engagement Will Prevent Future Conflicts, General Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2007 One of the most important missions the U.S. military has is forming relationships with allies and building the foundations for peace in regions around the world, the former commander of U.S. European Command said here today.
The United States is still a model of freedom and leadership for the world, and if its forces stay engaged in areas of the world that are at risk for instability, they can prevent future conflicts and save valuable resources, Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who headed up European Command for four years while serving as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, said in an interview.
“It’s clear that if you can prevent conflicts and you can shape the environment that you’re in and you can engage with friends and allies and do this proactively, but in advance of any critical mass being reached in a particular area, then you can save an awful lot of resources down the road,” Jones said. “These countries need help, and they need our assistance and our leadership. (It) doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but it has to be consistent.”
Jones pointed to EUCOM’s work with Liberia and Northern Africa, where U.S. forces have been conducting humanitarian missions and training local militaries. In areas like these, just the U.S. presence is important, he said.
“We can’t underestimate what building a road can do, what digging a well can do, what building a school can do, what training a country’s military can do, and how our men and women in uniform are such powerful ambassadors of good things,” he said.
The U.S. military’s role as worldwide ambassadors was established by those who fought in past conflicts and established the U.S. as a superpower that wanted to make the world a better place, Jones said. He pointed to his own experiences working with NATO, European countries and Africa as a case of how the U.S. military is still an example to the world, standing for doing what is right.
“The United States still stands almost uniquely capable to shape the environment in such a way that people can enjoy freedom and democracy and a better way of life,” he said. “That, to me, is the model that we’ve tried to subscribe to for many years and one that will work very well for us in the future.”
As U.S. combatant commanders work to promote stability in their respective regions, it is important they involve all their partner agencies of the U.S. government, Jones said. In EUCOM, the military commanders work with many different organizations, including the U.S. State Department, Department of Commerce, FBI, CIA, and other Defense Department agencies, to coordinate operations. This cooperation gives the military a better understanding of the overall national strategy for the area and ensures efforts do not overlap, he explained.
During his time at EUCOM, Jones said, transformation went well and created a more agile force. The cohesion of all four military services smoothed the transition and helped create a more proactive force that focuses on preventing future conflicts and helping emerging democracies, he said.
“The ability to use our forces for good, for relations with allies and friends, to help the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to deter and prevent future conflicts -- that’s what the great value is,” he said. “We should, one of these days, get back to our old ethos that if you have to fight, you better be able to fight and win, but that’s not the only thing you should be able to do.”