Why Did EUCOM Update Their Military Strategy?


Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

28th January, 2016


On Tuesday, January 27th, the European command of the Armed Forces of the United States (EUCOM) provided an updated military strategy in Europe. “Deterring Russian aggression” is a named priority in the document. Other objectives of the USA in Europe are, in particular, the fight against international threats and maintaining strategic partnerships.

“Although Russia supports a number of general efforts to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, these measures remain in the shadows of neglect by the Russian Federation of the sovereignty of its European neighbours and the violation of numerous agreements, which require Russia to act within international norms”, — the document says.

According to EUCOM, the risks from Russia come not only from the East but also in the North. In particular, because of “increasing aggressive behavior and the militarization of the Arctic”. “Russia is a serious challenge with our allies and partners in different regions, it is a global problem that requires a global response”, — emphasized the updated military strategy.

By the way, in the South, the main danger for Europe the U.S. is believed to be the terrorist “Islamic State”.

In addition, the document lists Europe as also being threatened by “the growing potential opponent for the production of ballistic missiles, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, infectious diseases, cyber attacks, international and national terrorist organizations and drug trafficking”.

“Our command has done an outstanding job, focusing equally on revanchist Russia, mass migration and the terrorists,” said EUCOM commander General Philip Breedlove.

General Breedlove stressed that the updated military strategy aimed at a United Europe, free and at peace.

Moscow has reacted extremely negatively to the new European strategy of the USA. As was stated by Russia’s permanent representative at NATO, Alexander Grushko, “it’s impossible to comment on the correct forms, because this thesis (the need to deter “Russian aggression”) is completely detached from reality.”

“This wording requires that the US, firstly, gather allies, whose ranks have recently been lost — given the new threats and challenges that require collective responses. They have been gathered under the shoulder of the USA, and are forced to invest in the defence sector, to strengthen the Eastern flank, a new iron curtain,” said Grushko on the TV channel “Russia-24”.

What is behind the adoption of a new strategy, how it will affect the military policy of the USA in Europe?

“The reasons for the adoption of a new strategy are deeper than just the desire of the U.S. to rally European allies, — said the Deputy Director of the Tauride information-analytical center of RAS, Sergey Ermakov.

“The serious exacerbation of relations with Russia is the main task of the European command of the USA, formulated to “ensure a favorable security environment”. By this we mean precisely the alignment of European allies in tight ranks, and the strengthening of NATO as an instrument for legalizing the US military presence in the region.

The Americans succeed in reinforcing NATO, but not in all aspects.  European country-members of the Alliance were in no hurry — and, by the way, still are in no hurry to increase defense spending. Yes, some frontier countries, like Poland and Estonia, have raised the bar of military spending to 2% of GDP, but their contribution to the general NATO funding is insignificant.

Needless to say the European command of the USA in the last 10 years has seriously declined in numbers. The coverage of the territories controlled by EUCOM has even increased at the expense of the Arctic. Yes, formally from the European Command area of ​​responsibility has left Africa because it was created by the United States Africa Command, AFRICOM but actually relies heavily on the resources of EUCOM.

Vague objectives, limited resources, and — frankly — the lack of serious military threats in Europe, until recently, has allowed the European command to exist quite comfortably. The reports to the Senate and the U.S. Congress from the commander EUCOM were repeated sets of traditional problems and traditional formulations. But after the events in Crimea 2014 all hell broke loose.

For EUCOM, the fact that the Russian army can operate successfully in the conditions close to actual fighting was an unpleasant surprise. In particular, to provide without any shots fired in operations, which in NATO’s classification is considered as “humanitarian intervention”.

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As a result, the U.S. drew conclusions from Crimea. And these findings directly influenced the fact that the principles of military construction in Europe will be reviewed.

What does such a revision mean in practice?

“The United States has increased the threat of a major military conflict for Europe. This involved changes in so called conception of advanced deployment in the direction of reinforcement of American presence in Europe – and not only quantitative but qualitative.

At the present moment, there is not a true United NATO force in Europe. Each European country has independently engaged in military construction, and from time to time takes part in limited joint exercises with the Alliance.

And now EUCOM is a key objective to become the core of the United armed forces of NATO in Europe. Now the European theater of military operations will see the operational deployment of necessary military infrastructure. Including intelligence and infrastructure for enhanced quality of command and control. In fact, it is about creating a dense network of small strongholds in Europe, which will afford Americans the flexibility to redeploy U.S. Armed forces.

Moreover, the new strategy in Europe will be combined with an updated NATO strategy, which was adopted in 2015, which will provide for the transition to long-term military planning. It is clear against whom this system will be configured against – Russia.

In the end, the American military will be present in Europe on a rotating basis and shall be placed at points which, according to EUCOM, are the most vulnerable from the point of view of possible Russian aggression. This strategy will allow the United States to contain Russia — in particular, to influence political pressure.

Our actions to the United States are related?

“During the Cold war we stood with NATO face to face, and was on the verge of a real clash. Both sides made plans on how to wage war, and then USA deployed over 400 thousand troops  in Europe.

Now, of course, we are not talking about the same scale of the confrontation. After the strengthening of the American presence in Europe, it will be about 80 thousand U.S. troops.

However, we’re embarrassed by the fact that Americans build such a system. Separately neither EUCOM nor NATO disturb us. But when the elements are put together, when combined, general purpose forces, nuclear forces, missile defense, the system begins to present quite a serious threat to Russia.

How should we respond?

“Invest in defense and build a defensive line. This is necessary, even though such actions set loose the flywheel of a new arms race…”

“Today there is a gradual change of leadership in the global geopolitical space,” said an academician of the Academy of geopolitical problems, former head of the Main Department of international military cooperation of the RF Ministry of Defense, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov.

“The West has finished off its work and now leaves, it’s the era of East which comes. In this process, we are witnessing a revolt against the American diktat. It happens all the time, even yesterday’s allies are starting to act against Washington — Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We see that Iran has achieved its goal — the liberation from sanctions as part of this global process. Remoteness from American dictatorship is apparently obvious in Europe.

But the Americans first challenged Russia. That is why the US is trying to suppress the Russian desire for independence, to also keep Europe under its control. Otherwise there is a risk that the release from the American dictatorship will turn into a coordinated mass movement.

To unite Europe, it is necessary to demonstrate a common external threat  – a common practice in the USA. When the threat subsides, it became ISIS, refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, Russia moves into the background, and the solidarity of NATO starts to come apart at the seams. So the Americans are doing everything possible to highlight Russian in the familiar role of the chief enemy.

In 2015, I will remind you, the USA adopted a new national security strategy. In this document, Russia is referred to 13 times, and only in a negative context. Russia is the main bogey act in the updated military doctrine of the USA. And now the Americans are trying to rewrite the key points in NATO’s strategy.

It is impossible to expect anything else from the U.S. given  the current conditions…”

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