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U.S. Forces in Europe Work With Allies to Deter Threats

Feb. 25, 2020 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

American forces continue to work with allies and partners in Europe as great-power competition with Russia and China comes to the forefront of threats, the commander of U.S. European Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A group of military leaders stand and talk.
Leaders Meeting
Admiral of the Spanish Fleet. Manuel Garat Caramé, left, speaks with Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command, center, and Navy Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aboard the Spanish ship LHD Juan Carlos I at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Jan. 23, 2020. Wolters and Foggo visited to highlight their partnership and continued cooperation in the Eucom area of operations.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Eduardo Otero
VIRIN: 200123-N-KH151-0068

Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters told the committee today that Eucom — like the rest of the Defense Department — is moving to implement the directives of the National Defense Strategy, which emphasizes facing the return of great-power competition while addressing lesser threats.

"In Europe, political uncertainty, energy competition, and diffusion of disruptive technology are stressing the established Western order," Wolters said during his testimony. "Threats and challenges, most notably Russia, Iran and China, seek to take advantage of these conditions through aggressive action using all instruments of national power and are backed by increasingly capable military forces."

Eucom is fully aligned with the National Defense Strategy implementation efforts, the general said, and is adapting the approach to ensure that the means are used most effectively. 

Wolters, who also serves as NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, stressed the role the European allies play in the effort.

Nearly 25 paratroopers descend onto a grassy plain.
Parachute Jump
Army paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade descend with British and Italian paratroopers onto Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, after exiting U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 86th Airlift Wing during airborne operations, Dec. 3, 2019. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s contingency response force in Europe.
Photo By: Paolo Bovo, Army
VIRIN: 191203-A-JM436-0599D

"Together with like-minded allies and partners, our team of patriots defend freedom and in domains across the area of responsibility and around the clock," he said. "Thanks to their efforts, … Eucom continues to maintain positive momentum with respect to readiness and is postured to compete, deter and effectively respond with the full weight of the trans-Atlantic alliance."

European Command has adapted to changes in the NATO alliance, Wolters said. "In 2019, NATO took significant military strides with improvements in command and control, indications and warnings, mission command, and by approving a new NATO military strategy, entitled Comprehensive Defense and Shared Response," the general said. 

NATO also established two new headquarters — Joint Forces Command, Norfolk and the Joint Support Enabling Command — the U.S.-based command focuses on maintaining trans-Atlantic lines of communications, while the German-led enabling command handles rear-area logistics coordination. 

"These headquarters increase our ability to command and control, enable deployment and sustain NATO forces in crisis through conflict," Wolters said. "The European Union, NATO and Eucom have made progress improving infrastructure and transit procedures to facilitate rapid movement of forces across the Euro-Atlantic."

Workers secure tanks in hold of ship.
Tank Loading
Contract workers secure A1 Abrams tanks aboard the USNS Benavidez in support of Exercise Defender-Europe 20, Feb. 21, 2020. The ship will carry military equipment to the European theater as part of almost 6,000 pieces of cargo that the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command will process through ports in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo By: Kimberly Spinner, Army
VIRIN: 200221-A-NN160-1277

This will be tested later this year, when Eucom participates in Exercise Defender Europe 2020, which will deploy a division-sized unit to the continent. 

In addition to demonstrating the capability, the exercise "showcases U.S. and allied commitment to collective security of the Euro-Atlantic," Wolters said. 

U.S. forces are in Europe because a peaceful Europe is in America's best interests, and there has not been a major conflict in Europe since 1945. American presence plays a large part in that accomplishment, the general told the panel.

"The United States position in Europe is an invaluable cornerstone of national security," he said. "Today, U.S. service members in Europe continue to generate peace alongside our allies and partners."