By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD NewsMarch 14, 2018
WASHINGTON -- The United States and NATO are working together to counter the biggest threats to European security -- violent extremism and Russian destabilization efforts, Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. European Command, said here March 8.
Scaparrotti, who is dual-hatted as NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to provide testimony on the state of the command and its future needs.
"Together with NATO, the U.S. has made significant progress," he said, "but we have much work to do as we execute our National Defense Strategy, fielding an increasingly lethal, agile and resilient joint force in long-term strategic competition with Russia and ready to counter violent extremists organizations."
COUNTERING RUSSIAN DESTABILIZATION EFFORTS
The U.S. and its allies have enhanced their presence in Europe to counter what Scaparrotti described as Russian activities aimed at exerting influence, spreading disinformation and diminishing confidence in NATO.
"Russia is carrying out a campaign of destabilization to change the international order, fracture NATO and undermine U.S. leadership around the world," he said. "To this end, Russia is advancing asymmetric capabilities in accordance with its concept of warfare, which envisions the employment of the full spectrum of military and nonmilitary power."
The general said Russia's increasingly modernized military is operating in every domain at levels not seen since the Cold War.
The United States has responded to the threat by deploying rotation forces to Europe, to include an armored brigade combat team and a combat aviation brigade.
Other actions include doubling the maritime deployments to the Black Sea, as well as theater anti-submarine warfare operations and bomber assurance and deterrence missions. Fifth generation fighters have been deployed to Europe for the first time, he said.
U.S., NATO COMMITTED TO DEFENSE, SECURITY
Scaparrotti lauded the NATO commitment to defense and security, noting members of the 29-member bloc have added $46 billion to defense spending over the last three years.
Eight alliance countries will meet NATO's target of spending of two percent of their gross domestic product on defense, with at least 15 nations on pace to reach or exceed that mark by 2024, he said.
"I am proud to report that the alliance is strong, it is unified and it's committed to being fit for purpose," the general said. "Our European allies and Canada have turned the corner on defense spending with increases in each of the past three years."
UNITED IN FIGHT AGAINST VIOLENT EXTREMISM
Scaparrotti commended NATO allies for deploying forces worldwide to support U.S.-led counterterrorism operations, to include the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and in support of security efforts in Afghanistan.
"The allies are committed to this fight and their support is essential to ongoing counterterrorism efforts," he said.
Since 2014, Europe has endured 18 major terrorist attacks, the general said.
"While the defeat-ISIS coalition, which includes NATO, recovers seized territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS remains active and seeks to expand its operations across Europe," Scaparrotti said.
EUCOM is strengthening strategic partnerships, bolstering regional security and reinforcing a free and open international order conducive to security and prosperity, he said.
The general thanked Congress for funding EUCOM, singling out the European Deterrence Initiative as particularly critical to the command's "significant headway in establishing a defense posture that is credible, capable and relevant to our strategic objectives."
The $6.5 billion EDI request for Fiscal Year 2019 will allow the command to more adequately meet emerging threats to the security and territorial integrity of NATO allies, according to EUCOM.
"At nearly $2 billion more than the 2018 request, it also reflects the importance needed to deter aggression and malign influence in Europe by increasing our air, sea and land force responsiveness and expanding interoperability with multinational forces," the command explains on its website.