WASHINGTON, March 15, 2018 —
U.S. European Command has made significant progress under the deterrence initiative which has supported the largest reinforcement of the Euro-Atlantic defense in a generation, Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Eucom’s commander and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, told the House Armed Services Committee today.
“Every challenge we face as a nation is best addressed with our allies, and I’m proud to report that the NATO alliance is strong, it is united and it’s committed to being fit for purpose,” Scaparrotti said.
NATO Defense Spending Increases
United States European allies have turned a corner on defense spending with increases in each of the past three years, the general said. During this time they’ve added $46 billion to the collective defense.
Between 2018 and 2024, at least 15 nations will reach or exceed NATO’s two percent spending target, which will enable NATO to ensure it is vigilant in peace, responsive in crisis and possesses the strategic depth for high-end, large-scale, multidomain conflict.
“Together with NATO, the U.S. has made significant progress, but we have much work to do as we execute our National Defense Strategy, fueling an increasingly lethal, agile and resilient joint force in long term strategic competition with Russia and ready to counter violent extremist organizations, Scaparrotti told the committee.
At sea, on land and in the air Russia’s increasingly modernized military is operating at levels not seen since the Cold War, according to Scaparrotti. The general said Russia is carrying out a campaign of destabilization to change the international order, fracture NATO and undermine U.S. leadership around the world.
“Throughout Europe — along its periphery in the Middle East and beyond — Russia has demonstrated a willingness and capability to use political provocation, spread different disinformation and undermine democratic institutions,” the general said.
Scaparrotti listed some actions taken by the U.S. and its allies to deter Russian forces in Europe:
— Increased U.S. security posture in Europe by deploying rotational forces to include an armored brigade combat team and a combat aviation brigade;
— Implemented the framework battalion task force for NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Poland;
— Prepositioned equipment for additional armored brigade combat teams and doubled their maritime deployments to the Black Sea; and
— Exercised theater contingency and anti-submarine operations, executed bomber assurance and deterrence missions in Europe and deployed 5th-generation fighters to Europe for the first time.
In addition, NATO has implemented its enhanced forward presence with four multinational battle groups backed by 29 nations. It has also established a tailored forward presence in the Black Sea region.
“The U.S. and NATO are putting a spotlight on Russian meddling and interference,” Scaparrotti told the committee. The U.S. and its allies, he added, are countering Russian misinformation with truthful and transparent information and reinforcing the narrative of sovereignty, freedom, the dignity of the individual and the rule of law.
Violent extremist groups pose the second major threat faced in the European area of operations, the general said. Since 2014, he added, Europe has experienced 18 major terrorist attacks.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria remains active and seeks to expand its operations across Europe, the general noted. Eucom provides forces for military operations against ISIS, such as Operation Inherent Resolve, and has increased information intelligence sharing among U.S. agencies, international partners and the private sector.
“Our European allies fight alongside us, deploying forces worldwide to support U.S.-led counterterrorism operations including OIR and Operation Freedom Sentinel and to conduct national counterterrorism missions,” Scaparrotti said.
Thanks to the resources provided by Congress, particularly through the European deterrence initiative, Eucom has made significant headway in establishing a defensive posture that is credible, capable and relevant to their strategic objectives.
“As our National Defense Strategy states a strong and free Europe bound by shared principles of democracy, national sovereignty and commitment to Article 5 of NATO’s Washington treaty is vital to our security,” Scaparrotti told the committee.
Eucom’s service members and civilians are making this strategy a reality, he said, and they stand ready to protect the homeland, strengthen the alliance and ensure that Europe remains whole, free and at peace.