Friday, April 22, 2016

Top general wants more soldiers in Europe

The general nominated to lead U.S. European Command said Thursday the Army should move another combat brigade to Europe to counter Russian aggression and also consider a range of military options that “keep everything on the table.”
U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told lawmakers that he supports proposals to boost the U.S. Army’s permanent presence in Europe beyond the current force of two brigades despite the strain that might put on the Army and the Pentagon's global forces.
“I understand the services' challenges in terms of ... resources to provide a permanently stationed brigade at this time. But I personally believe a permanently stationed armored brigade in Europe would be best,” Scaparrotti said told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Scaparrotti, who is currently head of U.S. forces in Korea, was testifying at a confirmation hearing to become the next EUCOM chief, a post that would also make him the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, or the top commander of the North Atlantic Alliance. If confirmed, he would replace Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove.
Scaparrotti's comments come as high-level Pentagon officials have begun discussing plans to permanently move one or more Army brigade combat teams back to Europe to shore up allied defenses against the Russians.
Such a move could involve thousands of troops — an average BCT is composed of between 3,000 and 5,000 personnel — and mark the first time in decades that U.S. European Command has increased its footprint on the continent.
For now, EUCOM has only two brigades garrisoned in Europe, both light infantry brigades — the 173rd Airborne out of Vicenza, Italy, and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.
Military planners worry that U.S. and NATO forces would be quickly overwhelmed in an unexpected fight against the far larger Russian force aligned along NATO’s eastern border.  more