Eucom ‘Ready to Fight’ if Deterrence Fails, Commander Says

May 6, 2016 | BY Lisa Ferdinando , DOD News

Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, a career infantry officer, assumed command of U.S. European Command and became NATO's supreme allied commander this week.

Scaparrotti most recently served as the commander in South Korea of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

"It is a true honor and I am humbled to serve as the European Command commander," he told those attending the May 3 ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, in which he assumed command of Eucom from retiring Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove.

Eucom prepares ready forces, ensures strategic access, deters conflict, enables the NATO alliance, strengthens partnerships, and counters transnational threats to protect and defend the United States, according to the command.

There are currently about 62,000 active U.S. military personnel authorized in Europe, including 52,500 who directly support Eucom.

Challenges for Europe

An aggressive Russia, mass migration and extremism are among the threats to Europe, Scaparrotti told the ceremony at Eucom headquarters in Stuttgart.

"We face a resurgent Russia and its aggressive behavior that challenges international norms in Crimea, the Donbas and South Ossetia," he said.

Europe faces the "immediate threat that terrorism poses, as the world witnessed with the recent tragedies in Brussels, Paris and Ankara," he said.

In addition, the significant influx of migrants and refugees is "challenging the social fabric of Europe," he said.

He pledged that EUCOM will continue to build on its legacy to deter aggression, deploy forces for contingency operations, strengthen bonds with allies and partners, and be "ready to fight" should deterrence fail.

Dual-Hatted as NATO Commander

As Eucom commander, Scaparrotti is dual-hatted as NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe. In Mons, Belgium, at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Scaparrotti assumed that duty from Breedlove May 4.

In that capacity, Scaparrotti leads Allied Command Operations, the command responsible for the planning and execution of combined, joint, effects-based military operations in order to meet alliance objectives.

He is responsible for the overall direction and conduct of global military operations for NATO, according to the alliance.

The 28-nation NATO alliance is more important than ever, Scaparrotti said during the ceremony in Mons. The alliance and its core collective strength remain vital today, he said.

"As we continue our critical mission in Afghanistan, we also face a resurgent Russia striving to project itself as a world power," he said. "We face terrorism and a refugee crisis being driven by instability in North Africa and the Middle East."

Distinguished Military Service

Scaparrotti served as the director of the Joint Staff; commander International Security Assistance Force Joint Command; deputy commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan; commanding general of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord; and commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division.

In addition, he served as director of operations, U.S. Central Command; and 69th commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. He commanded forces during operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Zaire/Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Liberia.

Scaparrotti, an Ohio native, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1978.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)