Archive for the ‘European Command’ Category

European Command: New Troop Deployment Plan

October 15, 2007

Aviation Week & Space Technology
October 15, 2007
Page 19

The U.S. Army’s top combat commander in Europe, who helped manage the 2003 lightning-like invasion of Iraq, says he hopes to turn around a decision to cut warfighting capabilities stationed in Germany and Italy. Gen. David McKiernan says the current plan is to reduce the force to two combat brigades from four (173rd Airborne, 2nd Cavalry, 2nd Brigade/1st Infantry Div. and 4th Brigade/1st Armored Div.). Without increasing the total in Europe, he’s pushing an initiative to keep these forces in Europe because they are on regular rotations to Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, three of the four are there now. Deploying from the U.S. would be slower and more expensive, and keeping them in Europe doesn’t require any additional infrastructure, the general notes. He also calls for stationing high-value support forces, such as aviation and engineers, in Europe as well.


Putin Digs In

October 14, 2007

Vladimir Putin of Russia boasts of a resurgent Russia and scolds the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense. But his game is a potentially dangerous one.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 15, 2007

For the last several years, gradually at first but at an accelerating tempo, Russia has reasserted itself in a revision of its Cold War ways. Once hopeful of a new Russia willing and able to cooperate more readily and effectively with the rest of the world community in fighting terrorism, dealing with nations like Iran and North Korea, and developing missile defenses; the U.S., NATO allies and others began to see a new more cantankerous Russia.

Some call this the “resurgent Russia.” We call it the recidivist Russia.

The driving force in all of this is President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

Mr. Putin’s reluctance to join further with the West on issues such as fighting terrorism and fostering democracy, especially among the former Soviet Republics, has turned into intransigence.

The differences between Putin, the West, and the United States especially, were never more starkly on display than they were on October 12, 2007. In an effort to resolve differences between the U.S. and Russia, the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense waited to meet with Mr. Putin before they met with their Russian counterparts.

They waited. And waited.

In what looked like an intentional display of power, some say President Putin made his guests wait for something like 40 minutes.

Then Mr. Putin launched upon a derisive criticism of the U.S. and especially the missile defense effort to include the Czech Republic and Poland.

Now Mr. Putin insists, unless the U.S. missile defense plan is scrapped or vastly revised, Russia will withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and deploy medium range nuclear armed ballistic missiles facing Europe. He has already walked away from the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which limited concentrations of troops and tanks, as an expression of anger at US plans to site a single radar station in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Moscow would be forced to take measures to “neutralize” the missile defense shield if it is built as planned.

It seems Mr. Putin will attempt to use European fear and public opinion plus his vast oil wealth as the levers of power to convince a weakened U.S. president to relent on missile defense.

As soon as Rice and Gates left Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow regarded the joint Japan-U.S. missile defense effort as an “object of concern.”

So it isn’t just the Poland-Czech Republic plan that bothers the Russians – it is anything labeled missile defense.

Recall also that Russia and China conducted their first ever joint military training exercise under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). China and Russia have united to block U.S. and U.K. proposed sanctions against President Ahmadinejad and Iran over its nuclear program. And Russia and China have even blocked sanctions against Myanmar.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters on the way home from Russia: “My own view is that the Europeans are beginning to wonder what the Russians are all about.”

Gates continued, “And I think it would be frankly harmful to Russia’s interests in Europe to unilaterally suspend or withdraw from this treaty [the INF], in terms of the sense of security and reassurance in Europe of the predictability of the future.”

U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan commands the European Command and he wants to curtail plans to reduce U.S. forces in Europe. He said: “In this era of persistent conflict, we have some fault lines that are there in the European Command (area of responsibility) that we have to pay attention to. We don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of a resurgent Russia.”

Finally, the day after the dressing down by President Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rice said:
“In any country, if you don’t have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development.”

She added, “I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma.”

What’s next? We’ll have to wait and see….

Putin Says Nyet
Cold War Redux
Kremlinology 101 Redux

U.S. Military in Europe Argues for More Forces

October 13, 2007

Washington — U.S. military commanders have asked the Pentagon to keep more combat forces stationed in Europe to respond to a rising Russia and other potential threats, according to senior military officials.

Plans to cut the number of soldiers based in Europe will leave commanders with too few troops to protect and train with allies on the continent and to stand ready for deployment to hot spots elsewhere, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, said Army Gen. David McKiernan.

“In this era of persistent conflict, we have some fault lines that are there in the European Command (area of responsibility) that we have to pay attention to,” McKiernan said Oct. 11. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of a resurgent Russia.”

The Pentagon organizes its operations into geographic commands and has been evaluating the proper role of its European Command since the end of the Cold War.

European Command, which includes about 95,100 U.S. personnel, supports NATO and, since 2001, has provided troops to Afghanistan and then Iraq, wars managed by another command.

Some analysts long argued the U.S. did not need a large presence in Europe after the end of the Soviet threat. In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush agreed, announcing he would close hundreds of U.S. facilities overseas and bring home tens of thousands of troops based in Europe.

But recent activities by the Russian military have led some defense officials and military officers to take a second look at the U.S. military’s posture in Europe.

Amid strained relations between Washington and Moscow over U.S. missile defense plans, Russia has issued a series of statements about building its military power. It also resumed long-range bomber missions to U.S.- and NATO-patrolled areas.

McKiernan said some Russian activities of concern to military leaders included the resumption of long-range reconnaissance flights and arms sales to countries unfriendly to the U.S.

He also listed other things that would be worrisome, including Russian involvement in border conflicts in its area and military action outside its territory.

As part of an effort to shift U.S. forces globally, the number of soldiers based in Europe has fallen from about 62,000 two years ago to about 50,000 today. The Pentagon plans to push that down to 28,000 and relocate two of four combat brigades to the U.S., according to McKiernan, who said he now wants to keep all four combat brigades and support staff, about 40,000 troops, in Europe. That call came out of a review of the entire U.S. military presence on the continent ordered by the commander of European Command, Army Gen. Bantz Craddock. He said Oct. 10 that he asked staff to evaluate if they had the capability to complete tasks assigned by the Pentagon.

“The result was, it appears we do not,” he said. Craddock said he made a recommendation to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but no decision had been made.