HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
STATEMENT OF GENERAL PHILIP BREEDLOVE
COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES EUROPE
As I arrive at the end of my assignment as both Commander of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (SACEUR), I have had no greater honor in my 39-year career than to lead the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians of EUCOM. These remarkable men and women continue to serve not only in the EUCOM theater, but put themselves in harm’s way across the globe and I thank this Committee for its continued support to them and all our nation’s armed forces. I cannot overemphasize how important European nations, in particular our NATO Allies and non-NATO partners, are to ensuring America’s security and safety. Many of our most capable and willing Allies and partners are in Europe, playing an essential role in promoting our vital interests and executing a full range of military missions. In this time of increasing military and strategic risk, we will continue to seize this opportunity to further strengthen the Transatlantic Alliance as EUCOM continues to experience unprecedented instability in an area of the world we once viewed as whole, free, prosperous, and at peace. Europe is not the same continent it was when I took command, as new threats and challenges continue to emerge. EUCOM’s steady state operations, activities, and actions, alongside our European Allies and partners, are targeted at meeting these challenges to ensure our national security interests, including defending our nation forward from conventional, asymmetric, and even existential threats emanating from our Area of Responsibility (AOR). EUCOM continues to play a vital deterrence role, against state and non-state actors alike, in support of the U.S. military’s larger global strategy. The forces forward deployed in this theater operate across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Likewise, the forward operating bases in Europe provide the U.S. Joint Force with essential access in the Mediterranean and the Levant, as well as North Africa and the Arctic. Our theater priorities and supporting activities in Europe fully support both the National Security and the National Military Strategies.
First and foremost they support our national direction to counter malign Russian influence and aggression, as well as meet our enduring interests – the security of the United States; a strong U.S. economy; respect for universal values at home and abroad; and a rules-based international order. However, it is not enough to simply have a strategy that supports our national security objectives; we also require resources in the theater necessary to accomplish these objectives. Since the release of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and our national decision to rebalance to the Asia/Pacific region, EUCOM has paid a steadily increasing price in resources and assigned forces to help achieve rebalance. During the height of the Cold War, there were over half a million U.S. personnel assigned in the European theater.
Today that number is around 62,000 permanent military personnel, of which 52,500 are in direct support of EUCOM missions. The remaining personnel support the missions of other organizations, such as U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), and NATO. EUCOM-assigned forces are now tasked with not only the same missions we have performed for the past several decades but with a substantial increase in our deterrence and reassurance operations in response to Russian occupation of Crimea and its aggression in eastern Ukraine, as well as requirements in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and AFRICOM AORs. EUCOM conducted Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE (OAR), trained Ukrainian National Guardsmen and defense forces, provided resources in support of AFRICOM’s counter-Ebola mission and continued to provide critical support of CENTCOM’s counter-ISIL mission. It is important to understand the critical roles these permanently stationed forces and bases play in this theater.
In response to the new European security environment, I have strongly advocated for, and our Defense Department, Administration, and Congress have supported, not only suspending further drawdown of this theater, but now the need to look at tailored, supportable increases in capabilities as we requested in the FY 2017 budget.
READ MORE at EUCOM POSTURE STATEMENT.