Breedlove Describes Challenges Facing European Command
Challenges Facing European Command
By Jim Garamone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – November 3, 2014 – Europe faces increasing instability from “the
unwelcome return of nations using military force to coerce neighboring states”
and from challenges emanating from the Middle East and North Africa, the
commander of U.S. European Command said here today.
At a Pentagon news conference, Air Force Gen. Philip M.
Breedlove, who also serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said
violence in Eastern Europe and along Europe’s periphery represent a threat to
trans-Atlantic and U.S. security.
Center of Partnership and Reassurance
European Command is at the nexus of three major global
issues: a revanchist Russia, support to U.S. Central Command and the coalition
to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and supporting U.S.
government efforts to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, Breedlove said. The
command also is the center of partnership and reassurance efforts for European
allies and a focal point for the NATO alliance, he added.
“Only by working closely with the NATO alliance and our
partners in the region can the U.S. adequately, effectively and quickly address
the shared security challenges facing America’s vital national interests,” the
Eucom will continue to foster defense and deterrence
capabilities in an increasingly complex security environment, Breedlove told
reporters. U.S. forces, such as the 1st Brigade of the Army’s 1st Cavalry
Division, provide reassurance to NATO in the face of Russian provocations,
working with the militaries of the Baltic Republics and Poland to demonstrate
alliance resolve. U.S. ships operate in the Baltic and Black seas, and American
aircraft patrol the skies, he said.
Russian Air Incursions
Breedlove noted the recent uptick in Russian air incursions
over Europe. “What is significant is that across history, most of these
incursions have been very small groups of airplanes, sometimes singletons or at
most, two aircraft,” he said. “What you saw this past week was a larger, more
complex formation of aircraft carrying out a little deeper -- and I would say a
little bit more provocative -- flight path.”
These incursions do not contribute to a secure and stable
situation, and NATO reacted quickly and appropriately, the general said, adding
that he believes the Russians are sending a message with these incursions that
they are still a great power.
Breedlove also commented on the elections held over the
weekend in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine. “We don't recognize them,” he
said. “We didn't support them [and] we don't think that they're helpful.”
About seven Russian battalion task groups are positioned
along the border with Eastern Ukraine, the general said. “The only change we've
seen is … over the past week or so, some of those forces left their border
encampments and moved even closer to the border during the period of the
election,” he said. Sporadic engagements continue in and around the cease-fire
zone, he added.
Porous Russia-Ukraine Border
Breedlove said the Ukraine-Russia border is wide open and
completely porous in many areas. “Russian equipment, resupply, training flows
back and forth freely across that interborder space,” he said.
Elsewhere, “clearly, ISIL remains a concern,” Breedlove said.
The terror group is a problem for NATO ally Turkey that borders Syria. It is
also a problem “because the foreign fighters generated there come back to
Europe,” he said.
With all that is going on in the region, Breedlove said, his
first concern is that European Command experiences no further troop reductions.
“I believe we’re sized just right,” he said. “I think we have
infrastructure that can be divested, but not force structure.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove
U.S. European Command
Special Report: U.S. European Command
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