Soldiers prepare to board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at a training area at Grafenwoehr, Germany, in August. The Army remains committed to Europe despite an expected 10,000-soldier cut from the continent, said Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, the commanding general of U.S. Army Europe. (Michael Beaton / Army)
The Army remains committed to Europe even as the service cuts about 10,000 soldiers stationed there, the commanding general of U.S. Army Europe said.
“This is not a bumper sticker,” Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell told Army Times. “Europe still matters to the U.S., and we continue to reinforce that through theater security cooperation ... and looking for more opportunities to incorporate more and more countries into exercises we support or run.”
Campbell spoke to Army Times on Oct. 2 after the Conference of European Armies, attended by Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and 35 other land force commanders from across Europe.
“We talk about all the things that are important to Europe, [European Command] and USAREUR and have a dialogue,” Campbell said. “This year, it was related to the security challenge we face in the future.”
A key underlying theme was what would happen after the International Security Assistance Force mission ends in Afghanistan, he said.
“We must continue to build interoperability with our partners,” Campbell said.
This is something he emphasizes, including training opportunities at the Joint Multinational Training Command, during his travels across the continent, Campbell said.
This year, almost half of the training at the JMTC will be multinational events, he said.
In addition, plans are underway to bring soldiers from the U.S. to train at the JMTC as part of the Army’s regionally aligned forces effort.
The 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has been aligned with EUCOM and with the NATO Response Force, which is a multinational force designed to deploy quickly when needed, whether it be for disaster response and humanitarian relief, or stabilization operations and combat operations.
The 1st BCT headquarters and a combined arms battalion will travel to Europe this fall for the Steadfast Jazz exercise in Poland, Campbell said. The BCT also will send elements in the spring and next fall for more exercises and training opportunities, he said.
The intent is for U.S.-based soldiers to do two rotations a year for about 60 days at a time, Campbell said, and “the commitment is that will continue for the next few years as a commitment to Europe and a commitment to NATO, that the U.S. will send a unit to train with our partners.”
There is strong interest among the European partners to train with U.S. troops, Campbell said.
“They want to know, ‘How can we continue to train with you?’ ‘How can we stay connected?’ ‘How can you support our exercises?’ ” he said. “The opportunities are there, and we’re looking for ways we can continue to train with them.”
This includes looking at the JMTC to make sure it’s “sized right” for the future, Campbell said.
“We want to make sure we don’t downsize too much,” he said. “Almost as important, we have to have the capability to support our partners who want to make use of that training center.”
USAREUR, which has about 32,000 soldiers and will eventually get down to 30,000, remains relevant because it supports EUCOM, Africa Command and Central Command “in an environment that is always changing,” Campbell said.
“We’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the capability to support all our plans and contingencies,” he said. “The U.S. and the Army have enduring interest in supporting peace and prosperity in Europe, and bolstering and strengthening the vitality of NATO and our European allies.”