In Europe, said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, it's important for NATO to be entirely clear on its resolve to use its capabilities should the need arise.
Hodges, who serves as commander of U.S. Army Europe, spoke Monday via video teleconference to the Atlanta CEO Symposium attended by Army leaders and about 50 Atlanta area corporate and civic leaders.
U.S. forces in Europe have now transitioned from being a force of assurance to also being a force of deterrence, he said, explaining that "deterrence is all about having the capability to compel, defeat, to force the enemy to change their mind or reconsider what they're thinking about doing."
November 3, 2016 - U.S. Army Paratroopers Spc. Jeffery Hooper (left) and Pfc. Cole Phillips (right), both assigned to 3rd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade, support their Estonian allies by pulling security during joint urban operations training in Hellenurme, Estonia. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. James Dutkavich)
To achieve those goals and that transition, Hodges described "five pillars" now in place that USAEUR considers important to ensuring a strong Europe.
EMPOWER JUNIOR LEADERS
The first pillar, he said, is empowering junior leaders to do more and assume much greater responsibility than what they're accustomed to.
For example, today the senior officer in Estonia is a captain with about 130 Soldiers under his charge, Hodges said.
"I have to rely on that captain understanding the big picture and interacting with the ambassador and minister of defense, being able to talk to the international media and ensuring Soldiers are doing their job in a way that doesn't lead to an incident that would be exploited immediately by the Russians," he said.
That's kind of what's happening up and down from the Baltic nations to Romania, Bulgaria and so on.
"We like to think of U.S. Army Europe as a leadership lab for the Army, where young people have huge responsibilities," he added.
The second pillar is the National Guard and Reserve, Hodges said. They make up a huge percentage of the Army logisticians, engineers, military police and other vital occupations. Besides that, the Guard has various state partnerships with nations in the region.
"What an incredible asset for us," he said, referring to the Reserve components. "They are like oxygen for us here."
Partner nations bring their own manpower and capabilities, the third pillar, Hodges said. "Our best and most reliable allies come from Europe, along with Canada and Australia.
"If there's something we've learned over the last 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, we don't do anything by ourselves," he continued.
For example, allied forces have bridging capability strong enough for tanks to cross, he said. They also provide short-range air defense, heavy trucks that can carry U.S. tanks on European highways and more.
The fourth pillar is the nine-month rotational force, Hodges said, meaning an armored brigade combat team from Fort Carson, Colorado, that arrived in January; a combat aviation brigade out of Fort Drum, New York, that arrived in February; and this month's arrival of an amalgam of active, Guard and Reserve logisticians that make up the equivalent of a sustainment brigade.
The fifth pillar, Hodges said, is having a "dynamic presence." He defined that as having units spread out and moving through series of exercises throughout Eastern Europe.
A dynamic presence means "showing the flag and creating the effect of having 300,000 instead of 30,000," he said, referring to 30,000 Soldiers today versus the 300,000 who were stationed primarily in West Germany and Italy during the Cold War.
"We look for every way possible to create the effect we want to create with the resources we have," he added.
In closing, Hodges said, "America's economic prosperity is directly tied to stability and security of Europe. That's why we've been here since the end of World War II. So there's a practical reason for us being there."
By U.S. Army David Vergun
Army News Service
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