Monday, April 20, 2015

US Removing 24 Apaches from Europe

US Removing 24 Apaches from Europe: The US Army plans to transfer 24 attack helicopters from Germany to Alaska over the next two years as part of a larger cost-saving aviation plan, according to a senior Army official, but the move could send mixed signals as Washington tries to reassure European allies amid Russian aggression.

Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek, Army assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and policy, told reporters on April 14 that 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters from Germany will join a company, or 12, unmanned Gray Eagles in Alaska by 2017.

Only one combat aviation brigade (CAB) is permanently stationed in Europe, the 12th CAB, headquartered in Katterbach. An Army spokesman would not confirm it as the source of the Apaches — a sensitive issue as the Army has yet to formally announce two of the three combat aviation brigades it plans to render inactive.

With budget-driven efforts to draw down its presence in Europe on the one hand and a need to deter Russian aggression on the other, the US is walking a fine line. Analysts said moving Apaches now would be out of balance.

"At a time when the US is rightly pressing our European allies to do more, reducing real capability in Europe sends the wrong message — to our allies and to the Russians," said former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "This is a time when budget decisions need to be reviewed in terms of geopolitical reality — which now includes a growing Russian threat to security in Europe."