ReportNov 22, 2020
Unexpected competition: A US strategy to keep its Central and Eastern European allies as allies in an era of great-power competition
By John Blocher
As China and Russia make inroads with traditional US allies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the United States is faced with unexpected competition. To keep these US allies as allies for years to come, policymakers should heed the roadmap offered in this strategy paper, which focuses on the case study of Hungary to recommend ways to deepen alliances with CEE nations.
Colonel John “Coke” Blocher is the commander of the US Air Force’s 1st Air Support Operations Group. For academic year 2019 to 2020, he served as the national defense fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security of the Atlantic Council.
Col. Blocher received his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 1999. He is a senior pilot with over one thousand five hundred flying hours in the A/OA-10 “Warthog” and the AT-38 as an instructor pilot for introduction to fighter fundamentals. Col. Blocher flew over one hundred and fifty combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed as a battalion air liaison officer (BALO) with the third infantry division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His accomplishments as a BALO, and as a joint terminal attack controller fighting the moving battle to downtown Baghdad in March 2003, earned him both the Bronze Star for heroism and the Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor.
Col. Blocher previously served as the military assistant to the Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command, Brunssum, overseeing NATO’s Resolute Support mission and Enhanced Forward Presence forces, as well as serving as higher headquarters for the NATO Response Force. He has previously served as commander of the thirteenth Air Support Operations Squadron, as a flight instructor and examiner, and wing executive officer. He completed the Olmsted Scholar program, attending Corvinus University of Budapest and earning a master of arts degree in international relations in 2011. Col. Blocher is married to the former Ms. Jamie Hatch and is the father of three boys, Jack, Cole and Cooper.