Commanders: Shifting Threats Require New Approaches
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2005 As the nature of the threats against the United States changes, so must defense strategies. That means a new posture for the U.S. European Command, the chief of that organization said.
That new posture has been in development for the past two years and also includes a transformation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's forces, Marine Gen. James L. Jones said March 9 at the House Armed Services Committee.
New emphasis is being placed on proactive security cooperation designed to enhance regional security in developing nations, denying terrorists safe haven and preventing the spread of conflict, he said.
"The new basing structure places a greater emphasis on our security partners to the east and to the south while maintaining, at its core, the NATO alliance and a strong transatlantic link," Jones said. "The reality of the global terror threat drives us toward a more agile, expeditionary and highly mobile force and away from static, heavy formations that have characterized Western Europe for over a half a century."
This realignment of forces and other transformation efforts will allow EUCOM forces to be more strategically effective, providing a more rapid and focused response, he said.
EUCOM's theater security cooperation programs are the cornerstone of its efforts to promote security and stability by building and strengthening relationships with our allies and regional partners. That, Jones said, builds understanding and consensus on the terrorist threat.
Jones was joined by Army Gen. Bantz Craddock, commander of U.S. Southern Command, and Navy Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Pacific Command. Both expressed similar sentiment regarding the need for transforming defense strategy.
While Jones' attention is focused on the Middle East and more and more on Africa, Craddock's focus is the countries of Latin and South America and the Caribbean.
"Security challenges in the Western Hemisphere are complex. They include threats ranging from transnational terrorism, illicit trafficking, urban gang and radical movements to those of natural disasters," Craddock said.
SOUTHCOM is charged with encouraging fledgling democracies, such as the one in Colombia, that are still stabilizing. Should those democracies slip away, terrorists who are finding safe haven in the Middle East increasingly hard to come by may see opportunities. And that responsibility is a big one, as only one country within the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility is not a democracy.
PACOM, while it may struggle with issues of the same magnitude, is looking at a different set of problems, Fallon said. It faces potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula and in the Taiwan Straits, he said, in addition to any number of transnational threats, including terrorism.
"To address these challenges, the nation needs flexible, credible forces forward deployed and ready for immediate employment," Fallon said. "While I believe the current posture of United States Pacific Command is robust, the evolving environment necessitates transforming our forces and putting in place new ways to command, equip, employ and station them."
Maintaining and strengthening alliances in the region is also fundamental to expanding peace and stability, he added.
"The realities of the 21st Century drive the transformation of EUCOM force posture towards a more agile, mobile force," Jones said. "Proactive security cooperation, particularly in developing regions, reduces the incidents of terrorism, prevents the spread of wider conflict and helps emerging democracies build professional militaries capable of securing their borders."
Though challenges by area of command can differ in nature, all three combatant commanders expressed agreement in the importance of relationship building and the stabilization of emerging democratic governments as ways to tackle those challenges.