SACEUR nominee: ‘We cannot rebalance or re-pivot towards Asia without Europe’

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove testifies on Capitol Hill, April 11, 2013

From Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes:  Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove told a Senate panel considering his nomination to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Europe that he’s committed to continue building on and maintaining critical gains in interoperability achieved with European allies over the past 12 years of war.

We cannot rebalance or re-pivot towards Asia without Europe,” Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

One of the most positive gains to come out of the war of Afghanistan was that the NATO alliance and partner nations “are much more gelled in their ability to work interactively and mixed together,” Breedlove said. . . .

Breedlove, who’s currently the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, vowed to “keep pressure on our ability to train together and keep this standard of excellence high so we can continue to remain interchangeable. . . .”

Breedlove said his first focus, if confirmed as NATO supreme allied commander and the head of U.S. European Command will be “getting the transition in Afghanistan right.”

He stressed the need to engage with the commanders there to “make sure we have the force sizing, the drawdown schedules, and what we leave behind in residual capability right.”

Breedlove also told the committee he believes the U.S. military could further reduce its footprint in Europe.

“I do believe we have more infrastructure that we can draw down in the Air Force,” he said, adding that some of his fellow component commanders in Europe, to include the Army, have said the same.   (photo: Charles Dharapak/AP)

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