Pentagon: Top Priority of US Military Forces in Europe is to Deter Russian Aggression

Europe's Threat EnvironmentIn response to the theater challenges and desired end states, and in support of higher level guidance, USEUCOM will concentrate its collective efforts on six theater priorities over the next three to five years.

Deter Russian Aggression
While Russia has supported some common security efforts in counterterrorism and counternarcotics, these contributions are overshadowed by its disregard for the sovereignty of its neighbors in Europe and its violation of numerous agreements which require Russia to act within international norms. One of the United States’ national military objectives is to deter state adversaries from threatening the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests while assuring the security of allies. Because Russian aggression threatens NATO allies and partners in Europe, USEUCOM is leading Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to deter further Russian actions that destabilize regional security. Through Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE, USEUCOM is working with allies and partners to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. USEUCOM will also participate in other bilateral and multilateral exercises and engagements to support the mission to assure and defend NATO, enhance Allied and partner ability to provide for their own security, and counter Russia’s use of conventional, irregular, and asymmetric warfare.

Russia is presenting enduring challenges to our allies and partners in multiple regions; therefore, it is a global challenge that requires a global response. USEUCOM will work with other combatant commands, the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to ensure that collective DoD deterrence efforts are synchronized and achieve the desired effect without causing unwarranted escalation or provocation.

Enable the NATO Alliance
U.S. and European efforts to advance a more democratic and prosperous Europe are built on the foundation of collective security provided by NATO. The transatlantic Alliance is a U.S. strategic center of gravity and source of cohesion in Europe. It is essential to ensuring that Europe remains whole, free, and at peace and capable of responding to crisis and contingency requirements in partnership with the United States.

USEUCOM has spent the last decade enabling NATO members to participate in expeditionary operations outside of Europe. While this mission is still important, USEUCOM will shift its engagement with NATO allies to concentrate on bolstering Allied capabilities – especially the most recent members – to ensure that they are able to meet their Article 3 self-defense and Article 5 collective defense requirements. Under NATO’s Readiness Action Plan, USEUCOM will continue to enhance the responsiveness of the NATO Response Force with pre-positioned stocks and related infrastructure to facilitate rapid reinforcement and manning for NATO command and control and associated enablers,which includes the enhancement of a corps- and division-level headquarters focused on assurance and adaptation measures. Lastly, USEUCOM will continue implementing the European Phased Adaptive Approach to provide protection to Europe from a potential ballistic missile attack from a rogue nation.

Preserve U.S. Strategic Partnerships
USEUCOM has worked hard to help develop partner capacity, capability, and interoperability, and USEUCOM must continue to help sustain and strengthen these developments. In support of these efforts, USEUCOM will conduct comprehensive engagements to further develop allied and partner understanding, planning, and collaborative military-to-military approaches.Multilateral forums with allies and other partners – such as regional chiefs of defense (CHOD) conferences – serve to enlarge areas of agreement and strengthen multilateral and bilateral cooperative activities. USEUCOM country cooperation plans will include bilateral roadmaps that seek allied and partner input and coordination to achieve desired security objectives. USEUCOM will also work with the National Guard Bureau, the States’ adjutant generals, and the European countries who are associated with the State Partnership Program to leverage their unique capabilities and increase partnership building.

Counter Transnational Threats
The United States and Europe face a growing number of transnational, and often asymmetric threats, which include violent extremists, cyber-attacks, illicit trafficking, weapons of mass destruction, and infectious diseases. USEUCOM, with the assistance of other U.S. agencies, will continue to work with European and international organizations such as Interpol, NATO, and the European Union to counter these threats. Using a whole of government approach, USEUCOM will cooperate with allies and partners to: monitor and thwart the flow of foreign terrorist fighters traveling to and from conflict zones and under-governed regions that threaten Europe and the U.S. homeland;dismantle extremist facilitation networks and transnational criminal organizations; and build partner nation capacity to counter the flow of foreign fighters. USEUCOM must also defend against adversaries who can threaten our forces through the cyber domain by identifying and securing our critical infrastructure. This will be accomplished through a defensible architecture, ready cyber forces, and improved situational awareness

Ensure Postured and Ready Forces
Europe has historically been and will remain key terrain for the U.S. military. The bases, access, and freedom of movement provided to the United States by allies and European partners are essential to DoD’s mission to employ forces globally to meet contingency requirement, conduct operations, and defend U.S. vital national interests. The access that the military enjoys is a product of the long-standing relationships that the United States maintains and nurtures – both through assigned forces and U.S. commitment through NATO to European security. U.S. infrastructure in Europe enables not only USEUCOM to meet its assigned missions, but it is also essential for the transit of forces and materiel through Europe to support other combatant command missions and requirements.

Focus on Key Relationships
As reflected in the other priorities, USEUCOM will focus on key relationships by enhancing security in Eastern Europe and strengthening ties with emerging Alliance leaders. The Levant and the Mediterranean are also regions in which USEUCOM will be fully engaged. One of USEUCOM’s core missions is assist Israel in its inherent right to self-defense. In addition to the threat posed by Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, Israel resides in a dangerous and complex regiondue to the expansion of radical Islamic extremists organizations on Israel’s border in both Syria and the Egyptian Sinai. Continued tensions between Israel and the Hamas-led government in Gaza have also led to open warfare in the past with no indications of resolution. Therefore, USEUCOM will continue to work closely with the Israeli Defense Forces to assure them of U.S. commitment to their defense and to preserve their qualitative military edge over their adversaries amid a rapid and uncertain regional transformation. Finally, in the Arctic, USEUCOM will seek greater cooperation for military support to civil authorities to enable the peaceful opening of the Arctic.

Excerpts from the Theater Strategy released by the United States European Command.

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Image: Europe's Threat Environment (graphic: EUCOM)