General Hodges and the Return of US Land Power in Europe

Soldiers of the 1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Division training in Latvia, Oct. 14, 2014I think that the announcement by the president of this ERI request is a great signal of a United States commitment to Europe. … It is a demonstration of the importance of land power … as a part of how the US contributes to assurance and deterrence.

The specifics that I would anticipate are an increase in rotational presence. What we have on the ground are two US Army brigades. That is the Stryker regiment … then we have the airborne brigade. … So, those are our two what you would call maneuver brigades. Then we have signals intelligence, logistics units, and those kinds of things. We have, I would call it, the remnants of a combat aviation brigade. As part of the Aviation Restructure Initiative, where the Army took down three brigades, one of the three … was the brigade in Europe. So, what I have left is just a headquarters and two of the battalions in it.

Now, in the past year, the Army started rotating back over to Europe a heavy brigade. All of the equipment came back. … So, we have got all of the equipment for a heavy brigade or an armored brigade.

The troops for that brigade are coming right now from Fort Stewart, Georgia, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division. … They will come back again in April for six months.

We also are using ERI money to do a lot of stuff with the National Guard and the Army Reserve. … I mean the reserve component is like oxygen for what we are trying to do.

How long are the new ABCT rotations going to be?

The requirement this year was just for the six months. … Then we were anticipating a similar kind of rotation beginning in ’17, until this announcement was made, which now means that we are going to have full-time rotational presence. So, this is where the heel-to-toe part starts in January ’17. The first unit to come will be 3rd Brigade, 4th Division. … They will arrive in January. They will stay for nine months. Then they will be replaced in September, October ’17 by another brigade….

What do you still think you need in the out years beyond this initial plus-up?

My number one need is for combat aviation. That is the biggest gap in our capabilities. … Everybody knows that the Army is designed to fight with our aviation. So, the Army is trying to figure out a way to do it whether it is rotational aviation, rotational troops, whatever the solution is, because it looks like they may have to add combat aviation back into Korea. … We are not the only show in town. That is what is going on. Combat aviation is critical.

The improved lethality of the Strykers needs to be addressed. I think we will start seeing that beyond ’17.

All of us are more and more in charge of training in a cyber environment. It certainly has everybody’s attention to make sure we are doing all of the right things to protect our networks.

Image: Soldiers of the 1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Division training in Latvia, Oct. 14, 2014 (photo: Sgt. Daniel Cole/US Army)