Document: 2016 U.S. European Command Posture Statement

February 26, 2016 8:18 AM
Marines with Combined Arms Company, step back as an M777 Howitzer fires a round during a live-fire shoot in Rena, Norway, Feb. 23, 2016. U.S. Marine Corps Photo
Marines with Combined Arms Company, step back as an M777 Howitzer fires a round during a live-fire shoot in Rena, Norway, Feb. 23, 2016. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

The following is the Feb. 25, 2016 U.S. European Command posture statement from commander Gen. Philip Breedlove.



February 25, 2016

I. Introduction

Gen. Philip Breedlove in April 2013. US Air Force Photo
Gen. Philip Breedlove in April 2013. US Air Force Photo

As I arrive at the end of my assignment as both Commander of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (SACEUR), I have had no greater honor in my 39-year career than to lead the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians of EUCOM. These remarkable men and women continue to serve not only in the EUCOM theater, but put themselves in harm’s way across the globe and I thank this Committee for its continued support to them and all our nation’s armed forces.

I cannot emphasize enough how important European nations, in particular our NATO Allies and non-NATO partners, are to ensuring America’s security and safety. Many of our most capable and willing Allies and partners are in Europe, playing an essential role in promoting our vital interests and executing a full range of military missions. In this time of increasing military and strategic risk, we will continue to seize this opportunity to further strengthen the Transatlantic Alliance as EUCOM continues to experience unprecedented instability in an area of the world we once viewed as whole, free, prosperous, and at peace.

Europe is not the same continent it was when I took command, as new threats and challenges continue to emerge. EUCOM’s steady state operations, activities, and actions, alongside our European Allies and partners, are targeted at meeting these challenges to ensure our national security interests, including defending our nation forward from conventional, asymmetric, and even existential threats emanating from our Area of Responsibility (AOR).

EUCOM continues to play a vital deterrence role, against state and non-state actors alike, in support of the U.S. military’s larger global strategy. The forces forward deployed in this theater operate across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Likewise, the forward operating bases in Europe provide the U.S. Joint Force with essential access in the Mediterranean and the Levant, as well as North Africa and the Arctic.

Our theater priorities and supporting activities in Europe fully support both the National Security and the National Military Strategies. First and foremost they support our national direction to counter malign Russian influence and aggression, as well as meet our enduring interests – the security of the United States; a strong U.S. economy; respect for universal values at home and abroad; and a rules-based international order.

However, it is not enough to simply have a strategy that supports our national security objectives; we also require resources in the theater necessary to accomplish these objectives. Since the release of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and our national decision to rebalance to the Asia/Pacific region, EUCOM has paid a steadily increasing price in resources and assigned forces to help achieve rebalance. During the height of the Cold War, there were over half a million U.S. personnel assigned in the European theater. Today that number is around 62,000 permanent military personnel, of which 52,500 are in direct support of EUCOM missions. The remaining personnel support the missions of other organizations, such as U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), and NATO. EUCOM-assigned forces are now tasked with not only the same missions we have performed for the past several decades but with a substantial increase in our deterrence and reassurance operations in response to Russian occupation of Crimea and its aggression in eastern Ukraine, as well as requirements in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and AFRICOM AORs. EUCOM conducted Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE (OAR), trained Ukrainian National Guardsmen and defense forces, provided resources in support of AFRICOM’s counter-Ebola mission and continued to provide critical support of CENTCOM’s counter-ISIL mission. It is important to understand the critical roles these permanently stationed forces and bases play in this theater

In response to the new European security environment, I have strongly advocated for, and our Defense Department, Administration, and Congress have supported, not only suspending further drawdown of this theater, but now the need to look at tailored, supportable increases in capabilities as we requested in the FY 2017 budget.

II. Theater Assessment

The U.S. and NATO face two primary threats to our security interests: Russian aggression and growing instability on our southern flank. Russia continues to foment security concerns in multiple locations around the EUCOM AOR. Concurrently, we deal with a variety of transnational threats that largely emanate from instability in Iraq, Syria, North Africa, and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The U.S. and NATO must take a 360-degree approach to security – addressing the full-spectrum of security challenges from any direction and ensure we are using all elements of our nation’s power.

A. Russia

For more than two decades, the United States and Europe have attempted to engage with Russia as a partner by building military, economic, and cultural relationships. During the 1990s, Russia became a Partnership for Peace member with NATO, signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and endorsed the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. The text and tone of these instruments presumed Russia was a partner who shared our commitment to security, prosperity, and inclusive peace in Europe. With these Russian commitments, the Department of Defense made security and force posture determinations significantly reducing European force structure based on the assumption that Russia was a sincere partner and in 2009, the United States sought to “reset” its relationship with Russia, which had been damaged by Russia’s 2008 invasion of the Republic of Georgia.

Despite these and many other U.S. and European overtures, it is now clear Russia does not share common security objectives with the West. Instead, it continues to view the United States and NATO as a threat to its own security. Since the beginning of 2014, President Putin has sought to undermine the rules-based system of European security and attempted to maximize his power on the world stage.

Russia continues its long-term military modernization efforts, and its recent actions in Ukraine and Syria demonstrate an alarming increase in expeditionary force projection and combat capability and logistical sustainment capacity. Russia has spent the past 20 years analyzing U.S. military operations and has established a doctrine and force to effectively counter perceived U.S. and NATO strengths. In examining the threats Russia poses to NATO and the U.S., we should consider Russian actions comprehensively, taking into account their capabilities,capacities, and intentions.

To the north: Arctic region. Increased human activity is changing the way the United States, one of the eight Arctic nations, views the Arctic. EUCOM, along with our Allies and partners, is working to contribute to a peaceful opening of the Arctic. We strive to prevent and deter conflict, but we must be prepared to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies. We work with our Allies and partners to ensure the Arctic is a stable, secure region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded and the homeland is protected.

Decreasing sea ice is increasing commercial and recreational activity in the high north. In the EUCOM AOR, shipping activity along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) is providing shorter alternatives for cargo. The unpredictability of weather and ice between seasons makes the Arctic a harsh environment for commercial shipping; however, the trend is clearly toward less Arctic ice and longer shipping windows.

The eight Arctic states have a solid history of cooperation in the region. This includes the 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, signifying an important step in Arctic cooperation. However, we cannot ignore Russia’s increase in military activity which concerns all nations—not just those in the Arctic. Russia’s behavior in the Arctic is increasingly troubling. Their increase in stationing military forces, building and reopening bases, and creating an Arctic military district – all to counter an imagined threat to their internationally undisputed territories – stands in stark contrast to the conduct of the seven other Arctic nations.

Russia’s improvements to Arctic settlements are ostensibly to support increased shipping traffic through the NSR. However, many of these activities are purely military in nature and follow a recent pattern of increasingly aggressive global posturing. We continue to encourage all of our Arctic partners to respect the broad and historical agreements against militarization of the high north and remain dedicated toward maintaining a peaceful opening of the Arctic.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), several Arctic states are submitting extended continental shelf claims. Joining the Convention would allow the United States to submit own our claims, promote U.S. interests in the environmental health of the oceans, and give the United States a seat at the table when rights vital to our national interests are decided. Cooperation among the Arctic states and adherence to the UNCLOS legal framework will deter escalation in the Arctic.

To the east: Russia and periphery (Ukraine and Baltic States). The Kremlin views the current situation in Ukraine as unsettled and a critical point of long-term friction. Russia’s coercive use of energy has grown with threats and outright use of force. Eastern and Central European states, to include the Baltics, are concerned about Russia’s intentions in Europe and consider Russia’s aggression in Ukraine validation of their concerns.

Russia’s aggressive foreign policy toward Ukraine and the Baltic States amplifies a general sense of unease among NATO’s eastern flank members, with tensions across the region, both inside and outside NATO, exacerbated by Moscow’s illegal occupation of Crimea and direct support for combined Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Kremlin efforts to establish levers of influence in the Baltics across the diplomatic, economic, information, and security spectrum are meant to develop an environment favorable to Moscow and present an ongoing challenge to Western efforts aimed at assuring these NATO Allies.

Russian use of Unresolved Conflicts as a Foreign Policy Tool. Describing the prolonged conflicts in states around the Russian periphery as “frozen” belies the fact that these are on-going and deadly affairs often manufactured by Russia to provide pretext for military intervention and ensures the Kremlin maintains levels of influence in the sovereign matters of other states.

Georgia: A clear purpose motivating Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008 was to prevent Tbilisi from pursuing its sovereign decision to become a full member of the European and transatlantic communities – a decision endorsed by NATO in the Bucharest Summit Declaration. In the aftermath of the 2008 war, Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence, and Russia’s military still occupies the regions. In an attempt to create additional obstacles to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, Russia also signed so-called “treaties” of alliance with Abkhazia and South Ossetia to increase its military, political, and financial control over these regions. Moreover, Russia has continued its policy of “borderization” along the Administrative Boundary Lines separating the two territories from the rest of Georgia by building fences and other physical barriers. In coordination with the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian border guards prevent freedom of movement of Georgian citizens into the territories and obstruct unfettered access for international and humanitarian organizations.
In Moldova, Russian forces have conducted “stability operations” since 1992 to contain what is described as a separatist conflict in Transnistria.Moldova remains disappointed with Russia’s continued political, economic, and informational support to the separatist regime.Most upsetting to Moldova is Russia’s military presence (1,500 troops) on Moldovan territory, which is aimed at maintaining the status quo in the region.Moldova has two battalions (150 personnel each) and one company (120 personnel) permanently deployed on the peacekeeping mission in the security zone of the Transnistrian Region.

Regarding Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia is part of the Minsk Group process, aimed at resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict. Despite this, Moscow has actually increased instability in the region by selling arms to Azerbaijan while maintaining a troop presence in Armenia.In fact, violence along the Line of Contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border has escalated significantly in the last two years, with 2015 being the deadliest year in the conflict since the ceasefire was signed in 1994. The complicated NK conflict is arguably the greatest impediment to the spread of peace and security through Europe to the Caucasus.

Russia modulates these conflicts by manipulating its support to the participants, while engaging in diplomatic efforts in order to preserve its influence the affected regions. Just as the Soviet Union dominated the nations of the Warsaw Pact, Russia coerces, manipulates, and aggresses against its immediate neighbors in a manner that violates the sovereignty of individual nations, previous agreements of the Russian government, and international norms.

Other unresolved conflicts in Europe require persistent attention to keep them from escalating. In the Balkans, Serbia’s continued reluctance to recognize Kosovo’s independence detracts from regional stability and security. Kosovo also struggles with interethnic tensions between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, while fledgling government institutions, unlawful parallel government structures, and a weak rule of law contribute to high levels of corruption, illicit trafficking, and weak border security. NATO’s Kosovo Force, supported by EUCOM, plays an essential role in ensuring a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement and is respected by both Kosovo and Serbia.

Russian Support to Syria. Russia’s military intervention in Syria has bolstered the regime of Bashar al-Assad, targeted U.S.-supported opposition elements, and complicated U.S. and Coalition operations against ISIL. The Syrian crisis is destabilizing the entire region, and Russia’s military intervention changed the dynamics of the conflict, which may lead to new or greater threats to the U.S. and its Allies for years to come. Moscow’s ongoing operations in Syria underscore Russia’s ability and willingness to conduct expeditionary operations and its modernized military capabilities which are emboldening the Kremlin to increase its access and influence in a key geopolitical region.

B. Threats to European Allies and Partners

ISIL and Other Threats Coming from the South. Numerous terrorist attacks have taken place in the EUCOM AOR over the past year, including the near simultaneous attacks in Paris that killed approximately 130 people this past November, with several additional disrupted plots targeting U.S. forces and interests. Over the past 12 months, ISIL has expanded its operations throughout the EUCOM AOR, formally declaring an expansion of its self-declared “caliphate” into the Caucasus while conducting multiple attacks across the region. ISIL uses social media and online propaganda to radicalize and encourage European extremists to travel to Syria/Iraq or conduct attacks in their home countries. We anticipate additional European terrorist attacks in the future. From Paris to Copenhagen, Belgium to Turkey and the Caucuses, ISIL and Al-Qaida inspired terrorists have conducted attacks that tear apart the fabric of free and democratic societies. These terrorists are not geographically limited to Europe. ISIL elements have conducted multiple attacks against European individuals and interests in North Africa including the Sinai. While we expect ISIL terrorists in North Africa will remain focused on internal issues in Africa in the near term, they may pose a greater threat to Europe should they achieve a safe haven in Libya or another North African country.

Similar to ISIL, Al-Qaida and its affiliates in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, such as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Nusrah Front, possess the ability to conduct mass casualty attacks against U.S. and Allied personnel and facilities in Europe. Complicating this picture are self-radicalized terrorists who, with little guidance from parent organizations, pose an unpredictable threat.

Left- and right-wing politically inspired violence: Internal dissent also threatens our partners in Europe. As an example, leftist groups such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) in Turkey remain a persistent threat to both the Turkish government and U.S. interests. DHKP/C was responsible for the August 2015 small-arms attack outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul and the February 2013 suicide attack at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

Refugee crisis: Europe is facing a historic refugee crisis as displaced persons, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and unstable parts of Africa flee conflicts and attempt to reach Western European countries such as Germany and Sweden. Over 1 million refugees or economic migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, entering primarily in Italy and Greece with 2.6 million refugees residing in Turkey. These figures have trended upward for the past two years and will likely continue to rise in 2016 as the conflict in Syria continues.

There is a concern that criminals, terrorists, foreign fighters and other extremist organizations will recruit from the primarily Muslim populations arriving in Europe, potentially increasing the threat of terrorist attacks. Also, local nationalists opposed to a large-scale influx of foreigners could become increasingly violent, building on the small number of attacks against migrant and refugee housing observed to date.

The refugee crisis is tragic, and the nations in the European Union are taking steps and adding resources to increasing humanitarian assistance to conflict affected countries while expanding domestic security measures and pursuing diplomatic solutions to the growing problem and its root causes. EUCOM work with our interagency partners to monitor this humanitarian situation.

Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF): Foreign terrorist fighters remain a key concern for EUCOM and our foreign partners. Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 westerners. Terrorist groups such as ISIL and Syria’s al-Nusra Front (ANF) remain committed to recruiting foreigners, especially Westerners, to participate in the ongoing Syrian conflict. The ability of many of these Europe-originated foreign fighters to return to Europe or the U.S. makes them ideal candidates to conduct or inspire future terrorist attacks.

European Economic Challenges: The growing instability in Europe fueled by a revanchist Russia is occurring while most of the continent remains stagnated in a persistent financial crisis, anemic economic growth, and continued energy dependence. The Greek economic crisis that nearly led that country to leave the ‘euro zone’ in the summer of 2015, is unfortunately indicative of the wide European debt crisis that at one time threatened the health of the European economy, which is unambiguously linked to the U.S. economy. Continued weak economic growth not only keeps unemployment rates high, specifically among young migrants susceptible to radicalization, it also hinders European countries’ ability to increase defense spending, resulting in most NATO countries remaining below the two percent NATO benchmark. European continued dependence on Russian energy, specifically former-Soviet and eastern-bloc states, only serves to bolster Russia’s ability to coerce those nations to achieve political gains.

Challenges for NATO: As NATO undergoes a profound historical change, it is both performing its core tasks of cooperative security, crisis management and collective defense and is recommitting to the basics, emphasizing Articles 3, 4, and 5 of the Washington Treaty.

Article 3 commits Allies, through “self-help” and “mutual aid,” to develop “their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.” It reminds us that defense begins at home, that all members must contribute to collective defense, and that each nation has a responsibility to maintain their capability for their own defense. Poland is a good example of an Ally who has reformed its military structure and is modernizing its military to meet the security needs of both itself and NATO.

Article 4, highlights the fact that Allies may consult together when the security of any of them is threatened. While it has only been invoked five times in the six decades since NATO’s creation, spurred by events in Ukraine and Syria, three of those have come in the past four years. Aside from these Article 4 consultations, NATO practices consultation on an almost daily basis.

Article 5 is the most known and understood Article and it emphasizes the responsibility of Allies to respond collectively to attacks on any member state. As declared by the Heads of State and Government at the Wales Summit, the events of the past two years have reminded us all of our responsibilities to each other and that “the safety of our citizens and protection of territory is the foremost responsibility of our Alliance.” In response to a changed security environment, NATO is adapting its processes, increasing its responsiveness and renewing its focus on collective defense by enhancing the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture, including increased awareness, resilience, readiness, solidarity, and engagement. Even so, additional work needs to be done to improve intelligence sharing and indicators and warnings among NATO members.

NATO’s ability to perform its core tasks is underpinned by the capabilities provided by each member state. It is publicly acknowledged by all Allies that defense spending, in support of the right capabilities, must increase. While there is much to be done by all Allies to ensure the needed capabilities are present for today’s strategic environment, there are some promising trends. In 2015, 21 Allies halted or reversed declines in defense investment as a percentage of GDP, and 24 halted or reversed declines in equipment investment as a percentage of defense investment. Five Allies met the 2% of Gross Domestic Product guideline in 2015, compared to just three in 2013. Eight Allies allocated the NATO guideline of 20% or more of their defense budgets to equipment in 2015, up from four in 2013.

III. Executing EUCOM Missions

On any given day, EUCOM forces throughout Europe are engaged in a variety of activities to deter Russia, and counter the threats posed to our Allies and partners. These missions include: (1) training and exercising of our forces in order to be ready, if called upon, to conduct full spectrum military operations; (2) assuring our Allies of our commitment to collective defense; (3) training and collaborating with our NATO Allies and partners to maintain interoperability; and (4) working with our Allies and partners to effectively prepare for and support disaster relief operations.

In addition to my responsibilities as a warfighting commander, I also often serve in the role of a supporting commander. EUCOM forces are ready to support the needs and missions of four other Geographic Combatant Commanders, three Functional Combatant Commanders, and numerous Defense Agencies. This includes the ability to appropriately base and provide logistics support functions to forces assigned to operations in the AFRICOM and CENTCOM areas of responsibility.

A. Deter Russia

Russia’s continued aggressive actions and malign influence remain a top concern for our nation and my highest priority as EUCOM Commander. The cease fire in eastern Ukraine remains tenuous at best, and Russia continues its destabilizing activities in direct contravention of the Minsk agreements. Russia also shows no signs of engaging in dialogue over its illegal occupation of Crimea, and seems intent on transforming this situation into a permanent redrawing of sovereign boundaries in Europe. While the U.S. and European nations have responded with diplomatic and economic sanctions, Russia continues its aggression in eastern Ukraine by providing personnel, equipment, training, and command and control to combined Russian-separatist forces. EUCOM, along with Allies and partners, continue to contribute to Ukraine’s efforts to build its own defense capabilities, including providing training for Ukraine’s armed forces. It also continues to destabilize countries throughout its periphery. We must not allow Russian actions in Syria to serve as a strategic distraction that leads the international community to give tacit acceptance to the situation in Ukraine as the “new normal.” Shortly after Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, our immediate focus was on assuring our Allies, through Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE, of our steadfast commitment to NATO’s Article 5 provision on collective defense. Now that we are nearly two years into this operation, our efforts are adding a deterrence component with the goal of deterring Russia from any further aggressive actions. These supporting roles tax the capacity of EUCOM’s assigned forces, straining our ability to meet other operational requirements.

As the Department continues to refine a holistic U.S.-Russia defense strategy, events in Europe continue to evolve. As a result of emergent requirements, EUCOM has undertaken a number of assurance and deterrence measures that will continue throughout 2016 and are greatly expanded in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Budget request.

European Reassurance Initiative (ERI): ERI continues to provide the additional funding that allows us to increase our assurance activities throughout the EUCOM AOR. EUCOM believes that the strategy of assuring our NATO Allies and Partners while seeking to deter Russia from further aggression, as undertaken by the Department, through ERI has significantly helped EUCOM with the dynamic security challenges within the AOR. We are grateful for the strong congressional support of this initiative that reassures and bolsters the security and capacity of our NATO Allies and partners. With your continued support, we will use FY17 ERI request to expand deterrence measures against Russian aggression. As an example of assurance measures, the U.S. Army deployed an Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) set of equipment (known as the European Activity Sets (EAS)) to the European theater. EUCOM is currently distributing Company and Battalion sized elements of the equipment along NATO’s eastern border. This equipment is used by the Army’s regionally aligned force personnel for the purpose of training and exercising with our Allies. Storing and maintaining EAS equipment in this manner helps reduce transportation time and costs and reassures Allies and partners in the region of our steadfast commitment.

With the FY17 ERI submission, EUCOM supports the Army’s effort to increase Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) unit sets to increase deterrence. This set of equipment helps shorten the response time in a time of crisis. EUCOM plans to use existing infrastructure for APS unit set storage and maintenance to the maximum extent possible, to include former locations used by the United States for this purpose. New locations, however, may be needed given the 80% reduction of European infrastructure over the past 25 years and NATO’s expansion along its eastern boundary.

The United States, along with its NATO Allies, will continue to take actions that increase the capability, readiness, and responsiveness of NATO forces to address any threats or destabilizing actions from aggressive actors. Over the last 15 months we have helped NATO members better defend themselves, along with non-NATO partners in the region, who feel most threatened by Russia’s actions against Ukraine. Continued congressional support sends a clear message to the Russian leadership the United States is wholly committed to European security.

Reassurance Measures: Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE supports the mission to assure and defend NATO, enhance our Allies’ and partners’ abilities to provide their own security, and deter further Russian aggression. EUCOM engagement, training, exercise, and cooperative activities will continue to support enabling regional cooperation with our Allies and partners to address the challenges on Europe’s eastern and southern flanks, and the threats emanating from and within Europe. These activities will enable the timely generation of fit for purpose forces, capable of addressing common and collective security challenges within Europe.

Russia Strategic Initiative (RSI): A Russia staunchly committed to challenging international norms is not just a EUCOM security challenge, but a challenge for the entire Department of Defense. We need look no further than its ongoing intervention in Syria and the serious operational implications it presents CENTCOM. Accordingly, we are addressing this threat collectively across numerous Combatant Commands through the Russia Strategic Initiative (RSI). RSI provides the Combatant Commanders a framework for understanding the Russian threat and a forum for integrating and coordinating efforts and requirements related to Russia. RSI allows us to confront this immediate threat to ensure we maximize the deterrent value of our activities without inadvertent escalation. RSI also provides DoD an avenue to analyze the Russia problem set across the interagency, academia, and think tanks for broad perspectives on an extremely complex problem.

Strategic Messaging and Countering Russian Propaganda: EUCOM’s strategic communications, information operations (IO), and related influence capabilities such as Military Information Support Operations (MISO) are the most powerful tools EUCOM has to challenge Russian disinformation and propaganda. Russia overwhelms the information space with a barrage of lies that must be addressed by the United States more aggressively in both public and private sectors to effectively expose the false narratives pushed daily by Russian-owned media outlets and their proxies. As part of the FY17 ERI request, EUCOM has requested the authority and appropriation to conduct IO. EUCOM will continue to increase its collaboration with Department of State, other agencies, partners, and Allies in order to effectively engage select audiences and counter malign actions and activities.

B. Support to Allies and Partners

Support to NATO: EUCOM is the visible symbol of the United States’ commitment to the NATO Alliance. The Command serves as a key agent to build capabilities and conduct NATO operations. EUCOM will continue to support regional cooperation with our Allies to address the challenges within Europe as well as those coming from its eastern and southern flanks, enabling the generation of forces capable of addressing common and collective security challenges.

The Allies’ commitment under Article 3 of NATO’s Washington Treaty, with its dual principles of “self-help and mutual aid,” provides the basis of EUCOM’s security cooperation in support of NATO. EUCOM is a key enabler for the Alliance’s unique and robust set of political and military capabilities to address a wide range of crises before, during, and after conflicts. EUCOM assists Allies in building security capacities, command and control, interoperability, and deployability to provide their own internal security, contribute to regional collective security, and conduct multilateral operations.

EUCOM also supports NATO’s actions with crisis management, operations and missions. With the invocation of Article 4 consultations by Turkey and Poland in recent years, EUCOM has worked with other Allies through OAR, theater security cooperation programs, and air defense support to Turkey to provide a tangible Alliance response.

U.S. support to the continued implementation of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan (RAP) is essential for a credible Article 5 deterrence. The RAP contains new operations plans, an enhanced NATO Response Force with quicker deployment times and assigned forces, new authorities for SACEUR, and an improved NATO command structure. The U.S. pledge to contribute key enablers is critical to the success of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), while seven Allies (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom) have committed to provide the lion’s share of land force contributions. EUCOM has also continued its support to other key aspects of the RAP, including maintaining continuous presence in the eastern portions of NATO, establishing prepositioned supplies and equipment, enhancing the capabilities of NATO’s Multinational Corps North East and Multinational Division South East, and the establishment of a NATO command and control presence on the territories of eastern Allies. Continued U.S. support on all of these efforts is essential to ensuring Allied cohesion and capability to meet our collective Article 5 commitment.

Missile Defense in Europe: EUCOM continues to implement the three phases of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and deepen our missile defense partnerships and assurances within NATO. Phase 2 of the EPAA, the first Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS), which is located in Deveselu, Romania, will provide enhanced medium-range missile defense capability, to expand upon Phase 1, which has been operational since 2011. While EUCOM has benefited tremendously from the Phase 1 forward deployment of four Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) capable surface ships to Rota, Spain, this capability is greatly enhanced by the on-schedule completion in December 2015 of the AAMDS site in Romania, the final building block of Phase 2. EUCOM is working to certify the site’s capability and ensure its interoperability with NATO command and control systems. To validate this construct, EUCOM and our NATO Allies will be conducting test and evaluation exercises, and we look forward to certifying our command and control interoperability, and delivering the key capability to NATO.

As we complete the work on Phase 2, EPAA Phase 3, which includes the second AAMDS at Redzikowo, Poland, is on track for completion in the 2018 timeframe. The basing agreement is complete and was ratified by the Polish Parliament by an overwhelming majority. The implementing arrangements are progressing on schedule, meeting both U.S. and Polish expectations, and Poland continues to invest heavily in preparing for the AAMDS deployment. Building upon Phase 1 and 2, the AAMDS site in Poland will support EUCOM plans and operations and represent the U.S. voluntary national contribution to NATO’s missile defense of European populations, forces, and territory.

Within NATO, EUCOM is working with key Allies such as Spain and the Netherlands who continue to invest in air and upper tier ballistic missile defense, and are considering investment in capabilities which complement the U.S. Aegis ballistic missile defense capability. Another shared concern is defense of the Aegis Ashore sites.

To support other key allies, U.S. Army Europe’s 10th Area Air Defense Command and 5th Battalion 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment have been doing yeoman’s work in their deployments to Turkey and supporting engagement and exercises with NATO, Poland, Germany, Romania, Israel, and many other nations. As their strikes in Syria have made clear, Russia presents a robust potential threat across the range of ballistic and cruise missiles from land, sea, and air. EUCOM requires the ability to protect our headquarters, bases, and forces. Since BMD forces worldwide are strained, EUCOM has diligently engaged with our Service components, fellow combatant commands, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Joint Staff to find solutions and drive future capability deliveries to address current and future threats. We ask for continued Congressional support in these efforts.

Cyber Operations: Emerging threats to national security, spurred by the global diffusion of information, advancements in technology, and a rapidly changing operational environment are impeding both U.S. and our Allies’ ability to operate freely in the cyber domain. Both state and non-state actors have offensive cyber capabilities that can disrupt and damage weapon systems, platforms, and infrastructure throughout our AOR. Non-state actors are seeking to develop capabilities to conduct sophisticated cyber-attacks in the future and will likely pose an increasingly dangerous threat to our forces.

Our theater cyberspace supporting strategy is the foundation of all cyber operations in the EUCOM AOR and enables us to integrate cyber operations with the other warfighting domains to achieve campaign objectives. Among the Command’s top priorities are the full implementation of Joint Information Environment (JIE) and a Mission Partner Environment (MPE). JIE is DoD’s initiative to address the security, effectiveness, and efficiency challenges of the current and future Information Technology (IT) environment. MPE is DoD’s initiative to enable operations with allies and other partners, both inside and outside of the DoD, in support of ongoing and future operations. While much more work must occur, EUCOM is already beginning to reap the benefits of these initiatives to enhance our mission effectiveness, improve cyber security and reduce risk to missions and our forces.

Nuclear Deterrence and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): The supreme guarantee of Alliance security is provided by its strategic nuclear forces, particularly those of the United States. EUCOM collaborates closely with U.S. Strategic Command to assure Allies of the U.S. commitment to the Alliance, including, for example, bomber assurance and deterrence missions. NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept, 2012 Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, and 2014 Wales Summit Declaration all affirmed that deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy, and that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.” Consistent with NATO’s commitment to the broadest possible participation of Allies in the Alliance’s nuclear sharing arrangements, EUCOM maintains a safe, secure, and effective theater nuclear deterrent in support of NATO and as an enduring U.S. security commitment within the EUCOM AOR. Through rigorous and effective training, exercises, evaluations, inspections, operations, and sustainment, EUCOM ensures that U.S. nuclear weapons and the means to support and deploy those weapons are ready to support national and Alliance strategic objectives.

WMD in the hands of a state or non-state actor, continue to represent a grave threat to the United States and the international community. Through our Countering WMD Cooperative Defense Initiative Program, EUCOM executes bilateral, regional, and NATO engagements to bolster our collective capability to counter the proliferation of WMD (and their precursors) and mitigate the effects of a WMD event.

Foreign Fighters: The flow of returning foreign terrorist fighters to Europe and the United States poses a significant risk to our European forward-based forces and the homeland. Actively encouraged by ISIL, returning foreign terrorist fighters are mounting attacks, a problem that will magnify as the flow of returning individuals increases over time.

Our Allies and partners share these concerns. EUCOM works in conjunction with the Department of State, AFRICOM and CENTCOM to monitor and thwart the flow of foreign fighters going to and from Syria and the Levant, dismantle extremist facilitation networks, and build partner nation capacity to counter the flow of foreign fighters on their own. We are pursuing efforts bilaterally, regionally, and within a NATO construct to reduce the potential for successful terrorist attacks within EUCOM and at home. USAREUR has created a program called WOLFSPOTTER whereby they integrate various intelligence feeds and share those effectively with partners to assist in the identification of “lone wolf” actors more effectively.

Foreign Military Sales (FMS): Foreign Military Sales benefits not only interoperability with our Allies and partners, but also our defense industrial base, with defense articles and services totaling well over $5 billion per year in the European theater. From Israel to the Arctic, our FMS programs are improving Alliance capabilities and meeting the challenges associated with meeting NATO’s capability targets.

FMS offers opportunities for the United States to improve the trends in European capability acquisition. Our Allies and partners understand the quality of our FMS program in comparison with other sources of defense articles and services, and seek ways to acquire our defense articles while balancing the requirements of the European Union and offers from other sources. Recognizing the quality we offer comes with a high price tag, EUCOM encourages our partners to engage in shared FMS actions by pursuing multi-national and multilateral FMS solutions in order to reduce costs for participants and provide opportunities to pool and share resources, increasing NATO capabilities across the theater.

EUCOM appreciates the various Congressionally-authorized Building Partner Capacity (BPC) programs which engage the FMS infrastructure to provide defense articles and services more quickly than traditional FMS, as illustrated by our actions in the Baltics and Ukraine. These BPC processes are benefitting the readiness, capability, and interoperability of nearly all of our partners in Central and Eastern Europe.

C. EUCOM Support to NATO in Afghanistan

The continued operational and financial support of NATO and other partners is a crucial pillar of building sustainable security in Afghanistan. NATO has transitioned from International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the RESOLUTE SUPPORT Mission (RSM). Our European Allies and partners continue to bear the burden of providing the bulk of forces, second only to the United States. As we conduct RSM, EUCOM will continue to prepare our Allies and partners for deployments to support the train, advise, and assist mission. Authorities such as Global Lift and Sustain, “Section 1207” (loan of certain U.S. equipment to coalition partners), 10 USC 2282 (global train and equip authority), and the Coalition Readiness Support Program are absolutely essential for EUCOM to provide Allies and partners with logistical support and continued interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces. These authorities allow countries to receive much needed equipment such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; interoperable communications gear; counter-IED and explosive ordinance disposal equipment; medical equipment; and night vision devices; as well as training to effectively use the equipment.

D. Assistance to Israel

A continued deterioration of security in the Levant region is a threat to the stability of Israel and neighboring countries. With limited warning, war could erupt from multiple directions with grave implications for Israeli security, regional stability, and U.S. interests.

EUCOM primarily engages with Israel through our Strategic Cooperative Initiative Program and numerous annual military-to-military engagements that strengthen both nations’ enduring ties and military activities. The U.S.-Israel exercise portfolio includes major bilateral exercises and continued engagement resulting in renewed and strengthened U.S.-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation relationships. Through these engagements, our leaders and staff maintain uniquely strong, frequent, personal, and direct relationships with their Israeli Defense Force counterparts.

The direct threat to Israel by ballistic missiles and rockets with longer range and increased accuracy pose a significant challenge. EUCOM maintains plans to deploy forces when requested in support of the defense of Israel against ballistic missile attacks. EUCOM also conducts maritime BMD patrols and weekly training exercises in cooperation with Israel. The U.S. and Israel have continued to execute the “Combined U.S.-Israel BMD Architecture Enhancement Program,” which includes both exercises and dedicated test events managed by the Missile Defense Agency, all supported by EUCOM.

E. Support to other Combatant Commands

In addition to EUCOM’s responsibilities as a warfighting command, it also must serve in the role of a supporting command.

EUCOM continues to provide direct operational support to AFRICOM by deterring growing opportunities for al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents, ISIL, and other terrorist organizations and criminal networks across the African continent. As the supporting command to CENTCOM for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, EUCOM continues to provide combat ready forces, force enablers, and critical combat support in the fight against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria. Turkey has expanded its role in the counter-ISIL coalition, allowing the United States to stage armed aircraft from Incirlik Airbase, and has increased its internal security operations against the group. ISIL can no longer view Turkey as a permissive operating environment and will likely attempt targeted attacks against U.S. and Turkish government.

EUCOM’s postured forces remain ready for rapid reaction in the volatile environments of North Africa and the Middle East. Special Operations crisis response forces based in Europe continue to provide immediate theater response capability, while remaining prepared to support inter-theater Combatant Command requirements, primarily with aerial lift assets. In 2016, Special Operations Command Europe will assume the role of NATO Response Force Special Operations Component Command. The Marines of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force in Spain, Italy, and Romania are ready to respond in Africa and Europe. Strike and associated support aircraft stationed in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom are also on alert to react to crises as needed. Strategic facilities and associated access agreements with European Allies and partners enable EUCOM to support this vital mission of protecting U.S. personnel and facilities.

The mature network of U.S. operated bases in the EUCOM AOR provides superb training and power projection facilities in support of steady state operations and contingencies in Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and the Middle East. This footprint is essential to TRANSCOM’s global distribution mission and also provides critical basing support for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets flying sorties in support of AFRICOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, U.S. Special Operations Command, and NATO operations. For example, over the past two years, EUCOM forces provided logistics enabling capabilities at airfields throughout Europe to forces deploying to the Central African Republic, enabling AFRICOM to support the African-led, multinational effort to stabilize that nation. Strategic facilities and associated access agreements with European Allies and partners enable EUCOM to support this vital mission of protecting U.S. personnel and facilities. An increasing number of embassies and consulates, however, remain at risk, on both the African continent and within Europe. AFRICOM maintains no permanent bases outside the Horn of Africa that can support forces assigned to this mission. Moreover, the capabilities available for EUCOM force protection are not keeping pace with the number of at-risk locations and people, and the magnitude of the threats they face.

At the same time, EUCOM is supporting DoD and State Department efforts to establish and/or improve agreements with several eastern European and the Baltic countries. We believe these formal agreements will enhance bilateral relations and also serve as a means to convey the U.S. commitment throughout the region.

Finally, and most importantly, EUCOM plays a supporting role to U.S. North Command and U.S. Pacific Command in defense of the homeland.

IV. EUCOM Capabilities and Resource Requirements

Setting the Theater: Given the historic changes in our security environment, we must reassess how our resources meet the most imminent and dangerous threats. EUCOM supports the Department’s strategy providing a mixture of assurance to our NATO Allies and Partners and activities that deter Russia. As the dynamics of this strategy continue to shift, EUCOM finds that ERI fills many of the personnel, equipment, and resource gaps we need to meet the Russian aggression. As stated earlier, our current force posture in Europe has been based on Russia as a strategic partner. EUCOM greatly appreciates the authorization and appropriations for ERI by Congress over the past two years, which has mitigated the risks and improved EUCOM’s ability to meet its strategy. ERI has also reduced the challenges associated with reductions in our permanent force posture. EUCOM finds itself in a shifted paradigm where the strategic threat presented by Putin’s Russia requires we readdress our force allocation processes to provide a credible assurance against what remains the only nation capable of strategic warfare against the homeland. Looking forward we will need to continue to appropriate prioritize the requirements of this theater. EUCOM will most likely require continued Congressional support in the future– at a minimum of FY17 PB levels –as we effectuate all elements of the planning efforts currently underway. Additional assets are required from Army, Navy and the Air Force to ensure we are able to perform our missions within the AOR. Further, EUCOM needs additional intelligence collection platforms, such as the U2 or the RC 135 to assist the increased collection requirements in the theater.

The augmentation of additional forces and APS in the FY17 budget continue the process of helping EUCOM meet several of its resource needs. The challenge EUCOM faces is ensuring it is able to meet its strategic obligations while primarily relying on rotational forces from the continental United States. Congressional support for ERI helps mitigate this challenge. The European-based U.S. infrastructure that supports EUCOM, CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and SOCOM exists as a result of the established relations between EUCOM forces and host nations. The constant presence of U.S. forces in Europe since World War II has enabled the United States to enjoy the relatively free access we have come to count on—and require—in times of crisis. Further force reductions will likely reduce our access and host-nation permissions to operate from key strategic locations during times of crisis. I am aware, however, of the tremendous demands on our current force structure and the numerous competing factors involved in managing the force.

Combatant Commanders Exercise and Engagement Training and Transformation (CE2T2) Fund: The CE2T2 fund is used to train U.S. Joint Forces at the strategic and operational levels. The CE2T2 has been instrumental to fund the EUCOM Joint Exercise Program, support interoperability with NATO and sustain theater security cooperation through EUCOM regional exercises. The CE2T2 is the only funding the COCOM has that is identified for Joint Training and establishes the foundation of the theater Joint Exercise portfolio. We encourage Congress to continue funding CE2T2. CE2T2 funding increases the readiness of our Joint Force, improves opportunities for our organic, rotational and regional aligned forces to jointly train with and engage with our Allies and Partners.

European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) Requirements: In FY17, we seek to continue a majority of the initiatives previously funded in FY15 and FY16. However, as you have seen, the FY17 ERI request greatly expands our effort to reassure allies and deter Russian aggression.

We plan to continue to pursue the lines of effort currently underway in FY17: (1) increase the level of rotational military presence in Europe; (2) execute additional bilateral and multilateral exercises and training with allies and partners; (3) enhance prepositioning of U.S. equipment in Europe; (4) continue to improve our infrastructure to allow for greater responsiveness; and (5) intensify efforts to build partner capacity with newer NATO members and partners. However, in light of the new security environment, in addition to the continuance of assurance measures, we are strengthening our posture in Europe.

EUCOM Headquarters Manning: Since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago, EUCOM forces and resources have been on a steady decline while our nation appropriately refocused its global security efforts elsewhere. We embarked on a policy of ‘hugging the bear’ with what we perceived was a former adversary turned strategic partner. The current force structure in Europe, most recently influenced by the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and our rebalance to the Asia/Pacific, is roughly 80% smaller than in 1991–making it the smallest COCOM–and is resourced with the strategic assumption that Russia is a partner, not a threat. EUCOM understands Congressional desire to reduce the size of headquarters across the Department. However, Congressional mandates to further reduce headquarter sizes come as the command is transforming from one focused on theater security cooperation to one focused on warfighting.

EUCOM’s Footprint Network: As EUCOM continues to implement the 2014 European Infrastructure Consolidation (EIC) decisions, we will ensure that remaining 1 properly supports operational requirements and strategic commitments. The Department is considering whether an emerging need exists to augment the remaining infrastructure to support assurance and deterrence activities in Europe. As discussed earlier, Congressional approval of last year’s ERI last year permitted the deployment of an European Activity Set (for training purposes) into theater, while the FY17 request seeks Congressional authorization and appropriation for APS (for crisis response). This equipment in the EUCOM AOR supports the rapid introduction of forces, reduces demands on the transportation system, and appreciably shortens response times. Just as important, it helps assure Allies of continuing U.S. commitment and supports a wide spectrum of options, from traditional crisis response to irregular warfare.

Key Military Construction Projects (MILCON): EUCOM’s FY17 military construction program continues to support key posture initiatives, recapitalize infrastructure, and consolidate enduring locations. I appreciate Congress’s willingness to continue to fund these priorities, in particular ERI projects, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center/Rhine Ordnance Barracks theater medical consolidation and recapitalization project (ROBMC), and the relocation of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe (JIOCEUR) and Joint Analysis Center (JAC) to Croughton, United Kingdom.

ROBMC remains one of the command’s highest priority military construction projects, providing a vitally important replacement to theater-based combat and contingency operation medical support from the aged and failing infrastructure at the current facility. This project is vital to continuing the availability of the highest level trauma care for U.S. warfighters injured in the EUCOM, CENTCOM, and AFRICOM theaters.

Another key EUCOM MILCON priority project is the consolidation of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe Analytic Center and other intelligence elements at RAF Croughton, UK. The Department requested Phase 1 planning and design funding for the consolidation during FY15, with three phases of MILCON construction in FY15-17 respectively. Phases 1 and 2 have been authorized and appropriated over the past two legislative cycles. We anticipate the construction completion will occur in FY20/21. The planned replacement facility will consolidate intelligence operations into an efficient, purpose-built building which will save the U.S. Government $74 million per year and reduce significant operational risk associated with the current substandard and deteriorating facilities. The RAF Croughton site also ensures continuation of the strong EUCOM-UK intelligence relationships and our sponsorship of the co-located NATO Intelligence Fusion Center. The maintenance of our intelligence relationships and the intelligence sharing we maintain with the UK and NATO remains vital to EUCOM’s capability to conduct military operations from and within Europe.

Information Operations. As mentioned previously, Russia dedicates enormous resources and intelligence efforts in shaping its information operations domain. This is a key enabler for its aggressive hybrid tactics executed in Eastern Europe to distribute its propaganda campaign and help fabricate facts on the ground when needed. EUCOM’s efforts in coordination with the interagency on countering this messaging campaign are critical in our overall assurance and deterrence measures.

V. Conclusion

As I prepare to conclude my time in command, I would like to reiterate how proud I am to have been given the opportunity to Command this team of professionals. EUCOM is a tremendous organization doing extraordinary things with limited resources to ensure we achieve our mission and objectives.

I cannot emphasize enough the somber reality that Europe will remain central to our national security interests. From having fought two world wars in part on European soil to the current instability in the east and south of Europe, our nation must remain indisputably invested in a region that is inexorably tied to our own freedom, security and economic prosperity. The Russia problem set is not going away, and presents a new long term challenge for the EUCOM area of responsibility and our nation. Russia poses an existential threat to the United States, and to the NATO alliance as a whole. It applies an impressive mixture of all elements of national power to pursue its national objectives, to include regular reminders of its nuclear capabilities. While Russia understands the importance of NATO and its Article 5 commitment, it has embarked on a campaign to corrupt and undermine targeted NATO countries through a strategy of indirect, or “hybrid,” warfare.

Besides dealing with an aggressive Russia, Europe also faces the challenges of ISIL, managing the flow of migrants, and foreign terrorist fighters from the Levant and Middle East. In my opinion, these new threats emanating from the south and integrating throughout the continent will get worse before they get better. They will continue to stress the already strained European security elements, which will only embolden our common state and non-state adversaries.

EUCOM needs to be better postured to meet our assigned missions, including those in support of AFRICOM, CENTCOM and other combatant commands. With your support of the FY17 budget request, EUCOM will be better postured to meet these assigned missions. Additionally, EUCOM needs Congress’ support for a credible and enduring capability that assures, deters, and defends with a coordinated whole-of-government approach. This EUCOM team will continue to relentlessly pursue our mission to reestablish a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, and prosperous.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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