U.S. European Command’s Maj. Gen. Mark Loeben was invited to speak at the DAZ: Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum (German-American Center) Concert in Neues Schloss, Stuttgart, on 7 October 2015.
Meine Damen und Herren, Ladies and Gentlemen, Guten Abend, Good Evening. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you tonight. I’m honored to be here in this beautiful hall among such very distinguished company.
I would especially like to recognize Dr. Rudolf Boehmler, chairman of the board of the German-American Center, Stuttgart and his wife; Consul General James W. Herman, U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, and his wife; Dr. Birgit Schneider-Boenniger, Head of the Cultural Office here in Stuttgart; and one of my favorite couples, Klaus Schaffer and Dr. Gabrielle Kloster-Schaffer. A special welcome to members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of Economy & Culture, and members of the VDAC and DAZ. Thank you so much for attending.
After accepting the invitation to speak and seeing the program, I was relieved to learn that I would not be required to sing. Unfortunately, my singing career ended before it began, when I tried out for my high school musical performance as a 17-year-old. Before I could finish the few lines, I was asked to sing, I was quickly given a “non-singing” part in the production.
I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the importance of events like these, events that celebrate and reinforce the strong relationship between Germany and the United States. I believe that this relationship is one of the many keystones of international cooperation and global security in our world today.
And while all of us here tonight enjoy tremendously the opportunity to come together at the Neues Schloss and hear wonderful music, we should remember that this gathering symbolizes a great partnership, a durable and crucial affiliation that contributes to peace and stability the world over. For that connection, we should all be thankful.
My family and I feel extremely blessed to be among the latest generation of American military service members, civilian government employees, and family members lucky enough to live here as guests of Germany in the beautiful Stuttgart area. Over the past several decades, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been welcomed to Baden-Württemberg with openness and friendship by our German hosts, …..
…..and we, in turn, have strived to be good guests, and to show our appreciation for the hospitality we have been given. The city of Stuttgart has played a unique and important role in the history of the relationship between our two nations, hosting many military installations, including Patch Barracks where I live and work, which has been a significant U.S. military headquarters, since the establishment of the U.S. 7th Army HQ’s in 1950.
This group gathered here tonight is testament to our strong linkage, not just between Stuttgart and the U.S. military, but also between our nations. Built on more than 70 years of cooperation and close mutual support, this relationship will remain for many years to come; a robust and valuable association of like-minded people.
It is worth reminding ourselves, at these types of events that our two nations share so much in common, including an appreciation of the arts, and admiration for the gifts and accomplishments of artists, such as the three musicians who grace us with their talents this evening.
Our nations also share common values. We encourage the pursuit of personal achievement, the advancement of civil freedoms, human rights, and the rule of law. I believe these values are the foundations that uphold the international system, and by extension our global economy. The ideals of modern democracy help to shape our participation in the global marketplace, and in the U.S. and Germany, support societies that are both compassionate and flourishing. Germans and Americans, two industrious peoples, while contributing so much to the global marketplace, …
….have accepted the responsibility to act in accordance with their values, and to take on the challenge of defending other nations, as we have pledged to do by our membership in the NATO alliance.
Prosperity and the worldwide market are built on a foundation of security; investments are not possible without confidence in the structures of our international order. Germany and the U.S. are both major contributors to global security through our participation in and contributions to NATO. And we both have much to lose should the current relative stability in Europe be disrupted by malign actions from the East, actions meant to weaken our resolve or divert our attention from pursuing a future of peace in a Europe that is whole, free, and prosperous.
The complexity of the European security environment makes the Continent susceptible to energy sector intimidation, border insecurity, and broad-based propaganda. These actions foster uncertainty and volatility, which could easily develop into financial challenges within Europe and for the global economy.
Although some individual European economies are healthy, others are fragile, and the vulnerability of these more fragile economies could threaten the prosperity of the trans-Atlantic community, and the global stability propagated by that prosperity.
Although we recognize that military solutions can never be the only answer, the United States European Command is postured to actively deter and counter these potential challenges within Europe as part of the larger coordinated efforts of many nations and international organizations, including NATO. EUCOM is an agile security organization ready and able to conduct military activities and coordinate whole of government solutions within the framework of the Alliance to secure enduring stability in Europe. EUCOM addresses regional and global issues by integrating academia, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and working closely with our European partners and Allies.
It is through this collaboration that EUCOM can conduct a full spectrum of activities to promote peace and stability in Europe and ensure the interests of the United States and like-minded western societies are protected.
Almost all of the important activities that the U.S. European Command accomplishes are with our partners and allies. These include bilateral military-to-military training and information exchange, multilateral exercises, and NATO training and exercises designed to increase interoperability among allied forces. Should the nations of the Alliance need to operate together militarily in the future, the investments we’re making now in learning each other’s systems, in building accessible communications and command and control networks, and in sustaining relationships, will be crucial.
Also crucial are the ties between our countries, ties that are rooted in a long history of trust and shared interests, and that remain as strong as ever because of the mutual respect we have for each other.
We at U.S. European Command consider building and sustaining our partnerships with key allies like Germany a strategic imperative, because we can’t succeed in our goals without our partners and allies. The bases, access, and freedom of movement provided to the United States by our Allies, especially by the country of Germany, are essential to our ability to meet contingency requirements, employ our forces effectively, and defend U.S. interests in the region. The long-standing relationship with Germany is one that our nation, our military, and especially U.S. European Command, deeply value and seek to maintain and nurture. Today, Europe faces a growing number of asymmetrical threats, including violent extremists, cyber-attacks, and illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons, and human beings.
U.S. European Command can utilize our military capabilities to curtail these threats by working with international organizations such as Interpol, to share information. We continue to build on our ability to thwart the flow of foreign fighters and dismantle the facilitation networks of extremist organizations through cooperation with strategic partners and European inter-governmental organizations. We also work closely with our Eastern European partners to help them build their national capacity to counter these types of threats.
My commander, General Breedlove, and all the personnel of U.S. European Command, headquartered here in Stuttgart, are very grateful for Germany’s hosting of U.S. military sites and installations, and we all understand that a robust and enduring relationship between our two countries is essential to the accomplishment of our objectives worldwide.
Enabled by the generosity and openness of our Germany hosts, we also pursue the mutual goals of our two nations. Those goals include a peaceful future for Europe safe from the dangers of extremism, violent coercion, and malignly influenced hegemons. All of us here tonight share a hope for a future of continued cooperation, partnership, and friendship between our nations. We should be congratulated for recognizing and celebrating this hope tonight.
I would like to thank Christiane Pyka, who as Director of the Deutsches-Amerikaner Zentrum, works hard every year to make this a special and memorable event. And I thank you all tonight for your kind attention. Vielen Dank.
Maj. Gen. Mark L. Loeben is the Director of Exercises and Assessments and Senior Reserve Component Adviser to the Commander at Headquarters, United States European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany.