Home » Budget Industry » EUCOM Breedlove: Indiscriminate Russian Bombing in Syria Worsening European Immigration Crisis

EUCOM Breedlove: Indiscriminate Russian Bombing in Syria Worsening European Immigration Crisis

Gen. Philip Breedlove. DoD Photo

Gen. Philip Breedlove. DoD Photo

The U.S. senior commander in Europe warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Syrian regime’s continued use of barrel bombs and Russia’s use of indiscriminate strikes in backing President Bashar al Assad is exacerbating the European immigration crisis.

Even after an agreement to a cessation of fighting between the Syrian regime and moderate opposition groups “we have not really seen a change in the type of sorties being flown” by the Russians, U.S. European Command commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said.

“We need to see how [the ceasefire] works [because] actions speak louder than words,” he said.

But, “What we have seen is an intense flow [of refugees] into the neighboring countries” such as Jordan and Turkey, as well as Europe, that is continuing even after the ceasefire, Breedlove said later in the hearing.

Breedlove said, “What we have seen growing” in the flow of refugees fleeing Syria and migrants leaving depressed countries in the Middle East and North Africa” are “criminals, terrorists and [returning] foreign fighters” coming into Europe.

“I think we need to be careful about all these flows of refugees” into the West.

Asked if that also posed a threat to the United States, he said, “I would take Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL)] at their word” that they want to export the caliphate’s control from its base in Iraq and Syria to the West as a whole.

In his opening statement, he said ISIS was spreading like a cancer through unstable and collapsed states.

The refugee flow “could be that source,” Breedlove said. “I do believe the Europeans understand and are addressing that issue.” He added that they realize that terrorist threats can quickly cross a border.

Regarding a resurgent Russia, he told the committee Moscow “had chosen to be an adversary,” in part “to re-establish a leading role” for itself on the world stage.

Russian pilot in Syria.

Russian pilot in Syria.

Breedlove said Russia now “dials up and down the pressure” along its borders—snap exercises (including in the Arctic where they mask large re-deployments of forces), sending more military aid to separatists in Ukraine, flying long-range bombers far from their home bases and recapitalizing its military according to its own plan.

Speaking about Ukraine as an example of Russian muscle-flexing along its borders, he said the number of attacks are up—450 incidents last week, with heavier weapons in places that were quiet.

He added that this activity in Ukraine was “nothing like a major military muscle movement” to break the latest agreement reached in Minsk to curb fighting in the eastern region.

“We should not take any tools off the plate” in aiding the Kiev government. “I’ve made my recommendations [to the Obama administration] along those lines.”

Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said the situation in Ukraine is “the same movie we’ve been watching . . . for two years” despite several broken agreements to end fighting. Russian President Vladimir Putin has learned “military adventurism pays.”

Breedlove said sanctions, the decline of oil prices and economic stagnation have put pressure on Russia but in an open hearing declined to go further as to what degree those changes affect Moscow’s military modernization program and its willingness to deploy forces.

He did say that despite shortages in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in his command the services have helped close a gap in being able to analyze intelligence and being more predictive “to solve a problem” before it becomes a crisis.

Adding to the pressure he thinks, “submarines, like other assets [are] low density, high demand” resources that other commands call upon.

Breedlove said 16 NATO nations “have arrested the decline” in defense spending and are exceeding the alliance’s target of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on security. “Seven have very credible plans over a very credible amount of time” to reach the target.

He added that 20 percent of that increased spending should be put toward recapitalization of equipment and modernization, not simply personnel costs.

In likely what will be his last appearance before the committee, Breedlove said the European Reassurance Initiative is closing some shortfalls in forward presence of personnel, fully funded rotational forces, prepositioning equipment, rapid reinforcing exercises and training of alliance militaries.

The initiative is paid for out of annual emergency defense spending bills and not part of the Defense Department’s base budget.

“NATO needs to bring [the] entire force to readiness and responsiveness” and that includes improving airfields, railheads and understanding a new security environment of anti-access/area denial capabilities in the Russian armed forces.

  • Passing by

    “With a sick head on healthy — specialist in Afghan wedding bombings accused us of “imprecise bombing” – Vice-Premier of Russia Dmitry Rogozin commented in Twitter

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Whataboutery is as much as Ivan can do.

      They know what they are doing & they don’t give a damn.

      • Александар Томић

        And nevermindery is as much as Joe can do. Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi huh?

  • sferrin

    No it isn’t. The fact that Europe KEEPS ACCEPTING THEM is what’s making the crisis in Europe worse. Put blame where blame belongs.

    • The Engineer

      Agreed, but you should look at why the EU is accepting them.

  • vervoort karel

    What about the US bombing with an AC130 during 30 m inutes of a MSF hospital, killing more then 20 people….That also happened. And DONBASS and Krim have a majority Russian population. If you do not even accept that these people are allowed to speak their own language,, as Kiev did, then you are neither a democracy nor a honest capable government.

    • Secundius

      Just Exactly HOW Does the AC-130 BOMB. I don’t Recall EVER Seeing Anything Remotely Looking Like A Bomb Rail on the AC-130 Spectre Gunship…

      • vervoort karel

        Do you really think I do not know that? Look at my cv.
        Civilians in these countries call them bombs, and on the news it was called bombing. They use the same name for artillery “bombing”. Of course this was with the 105 mm gun , I also experienced in Somalia in 1993 were the AC130 stationed at Mombassa was shooting at the Aideed compound to kill him. Alas, somebody forgot to deny the possibility to escape the compound. Aideed is still there, and the US left, and with them everybody, except us that started again pure humanitarian aid…..And you better investigate what happened later to the AC130 that was lost afterwards there…..
        And BTW, bombe have been dropped (rolled off) by C130’s as so many others things have been done by this workhorse.
        And please do not come to me with any excuse for the MSF hospital attack. This is the kind of gross error comparable with the shootdown of two UN helicopters by two F15’s after Gulf War 1

        • Secundius

          Gun Artillery is called “SHELLING”, NOT “BOMBING”

          • vervoort karel

            Stop the ethymological nonsens. Arguments please.

  • kevin p

    Thank god for Russia

    • sferrin


  • The Engineer

    The only reason there is an immigration crisis in Europe is because the EU super state allows and encourages it. 80% of the “immigrants” are males in their twenties. These are not political refugees, they are economic refuges. Why does the EU do this? It is cultural warfare by the EU super state on the member states of the EU to destroy the member states unique culture. But why? To complete crush the power of the member states so they are just districts of the EU super state. How can the EU do this? Because the EU is NOT the democracy it pretends to be. The EU has Soviet style elections where there is only one candidate running for the position being voted on, and that candidate is nominated by an EU committee. How very Soviet of the EU. If the EU wanted to put an end to the immigration crisis, all it has to do is to change EU policy.