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29 Jul 20. DOD Proposes Removing More Than 11,000 Troops From Germany. The United States will bring some American service members home from their forward stationed assignments in Germany, while other service members will move to other locations in Europe to improve the commitment to NATO and the defense of Europe, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said, adding that the proposed changes are firmly in line with the National Defense Strategy.
The plan is for U.S. European Command to reposition 11,900 personnel who are currently stationed in Germany to other locations, Esper said during a news conference today at the Pentagon. The move will reduce the number of U.S. military personnel in Germany from about 36,000 to 24,000. Repositioning could begin in weeks, he said, adding that with 24,000 American service members, Germany would still host the highest number of U.S. troops of any nation in NATO.
About 5,600 service members being moved out of Germany will stay within Europe. They will be moved to other NATO nations, Esper said. An additional 6,400 personnel will return to the United States, though Esper said this will not mean less support of NATO allies, because instead of having permanently stationed forces in Germany, other military units will begin rotational deployments farther east on the continent in more strategic locations, such as near the Black Sea region.
”Our aim is to implement these moves as expeditiously as possible consistent with the principles I set forth from the beginning, particularly being fair to, and taking care of our service members and their families,” the secretary said. ”We could see some moves begin within weeks. Others will take longer. As anyone can see, the repositioning of our forces in Europe constitutes a major strategic and positive shift, wholly in line with the NDS and consistent with other adjustments the United States has made within NATO in previous times.”
Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, spelled out some of the specific movements planned for forces in Europe.
The Eucom headquarters and the associated U.S. Special Operations Command-Europe headquarters, for example, would move from Germany to Mons, Belgium, where they would be located with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.
“This will improve the speed and clarity of our decision-making and promote greater operational alignment,” Wolters said, adding that a similar relocation could happen for U.S. Africa Command headquarters and the associated U.S. Special Operations Command-Africa, though no new location has been determined.
Wolters also said Eucom intends to reposition three brigade-sized headquarters, an air defense artillery battalion, and an engineering battalion to Belgium from Germany, as well as move two smaller support and contracting organizations to Italy. He said the 52nd Civil Engineering Squadron, an Air Force unit, could be one of the first to move. The plan is to put that unit in Italy.
Eucom also proposes relocating an F-16 fighter squadron and elements of a fighter wing to Italy. Esper said the move will put those units closer to the Black Sea region, better enabling them to support NATO in the southeast.
“The proposal to reposition forces back to [the United States], … with respect to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, will allow those units to regain maximum U.S. at-home-station readiness and more effectively support global contingencies while still maintaining a keen focus on Europe,” Wolters said.
There are also plans to rotate forward the lead element of the Army’s 5th Corps headquarters to Poland, Esper said, contingent on Warsaw signing a defense cooperation agreement. There may also be other opportunities to move additional forces into Poland and the Baltics, the general said.
“This rebalance, consistent with the NDS, will align NATO and Eucom capabilities, better distribute forces across Europe and increase the use of rotational forces, thus bolstering our commitment to Europe,” said Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It enhances deterrence and improves operational flexibility. Repositioning our forces and making consolidations will provide General Wolters, as the commander, increased ability to dynamically employ his force. This effort will increase opportunities to partner with and strengthen our bond with allies and partners in the region. It will also require additional planning and consultation with our allies.” (Source: US DoD)
29 Jul 20. Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on US force posture in Europe. “Today’s announcement by Secretary Esper on US forces in Europe underlines the continued commitment by the United States to NATO and to European security. Peace and security in Europe is important for the security and prosperity of North America, and as we face a more unpredictable world, we are stronger and safer when we stand together. The US has consulted closely with all NATO Allies ahead of today’s announcement. (Source: NATO)
29 Jul 20. Department of Defense Statement: U.S. European Command Force Posture Review. Today the Secretary of Defense announced an update to the status of our U.S. European Command Force Posture review as a part of the department’s continued efforts to implement the National Defense Strategy. Following the decision from the President in early June to reduce our force footprint in Germany, the Secretary provided direction to the Department to develop options for repositioning our forces throughout Europe using five core principles:
- Enhance deterrence of Russia
- Strengthen NATO
- Reassure allies
- Improve U.S. strategic flexibility and EUCOM operational flexibility
- Take care of our Service members and their families in the process
In total, approximately 11,900 military personnel will be repositioned from Germany, with nearly 5,600 repositioned within other NATO countries and 6,400 returning to the United States to address readiness and prepare for rotational deployments.
The plan will consolidate headquarters to strengthen operational efficiency, will reposition some forces to the United States to focus on readiness, and place rotational forces in the Black Sea region on NATO’s southeastern flank. These force posture changes meet the Secretary’s above core principles while adapting our force posture to address national security concerns in today’s environment. In addition, these changes will prioritize service members and their families as they relocate throughout the process. (Source: US DoD)
24 Jul 20. The Norweigian Armed Forces’ New Long-Term Plan: The Priorities Behind the Money. Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen responds to a post in Dagens Næringsliv from former Chief of Defense Sverre Diesen who called for more information on how the extra billions for the Armed Forces will be used in the years ahead.
Former Chief of Defense Sverre Diesen calls for more information on how the extra billions for the Armed Forces will be used in the years ahead. It is not difficult to answer. By 2024, the government will strengthen its Armed Forces personnel with 550 man-years and 700 conscripts. We will strengthen Finnmark Landforsvar, further develop Brigade North towards a mechanized brigade consisting of four combat battalions. In addition, a cadre-based company will be established to deal with threats from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
The Armed Forces’ special forces are strengthened with a new task squadron. In the Norwegian Navy, we will upgrade the demining vessels and corvettes. The frigates will undergo a mid-life upgrade so that they are kept technically and operationally relevant. The air defense system NASAMS will be upgraded from 2023. In addition, it is planned to start work on replacing the Bell 412 with a new type of helicopter from 2024.
Training will be moved out of the operational departments and a new recruit school will be established at Terningmoen. During this period, we also get artillery and armored vehicles for the Army, new Coast Guard vessels for the Navy, and new fighter jets and surveillance aircraft will come into service.
In the current long-term plan, it is planned with an economic escalation of about 180bn NOK over 20 years. If we look at the new plan in a similar 20-year perspective, it adds up to a total financial escalation of about NOK 350bn. This creates considerable room for further strengthening of the Armed Forces.
The government has proposed to increase the defense budget gradually over eight years to a level that is 16.5bn higher than the current level. In addition, we make demands for improvement and efficiency. The freed-up resources must of course be kept in the sector.
This means that if the Armed Forces manage to release about NOK 500m a year by streamlining operations, the sector will have a total of NOK 18.5bn more, including investment in new capacities.
In recent years, we have improved maintenance, and put in place more spare parts and emergency stocks. We must continue with that. It is not true, as Diesen claims, that the new long-term plan takes a new course here. The government is following up what has already been started, at the same time as we continue the construction.
The government will strengthen all branches of defense. The army with more soldiers and increased fighting power. The Norwegian Navy with increased manning, more sailing days and an extension of the service life of a number of systems. In the Air Force, the phasing in of new capacities such as the F-35 and P-8 continues. The special forces get a new task squadron and new helicopters. The cyber defense is strengthened with increased staffing and investments. And the Home Guard is being modernized and given increased preparedness and responsiveness.
We make several clear priorities. The most important move is that we strengthen the Armed Forces with a plan that can be financed and that is in balance. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Norway Ministry of Defense)
28 Jul 20. New ELN report offers practical options for reinvigorating talks between the nuclear-weapon states. Based on interviews with 60+ officials and experts, the report offers the most comprehensive analysis of contemporary multilateral nuclear diplomacy to date. A new report from the European Leadership Network offers practical recommendations for five nuclear powers (the P5) to reduce nuclear risks. The report also outlines options for the P5, designed to strengthen their collaboration and enhance the effectiveness of their joint undertaking.
Overcoming disunity: Reinvigorating the P5 Process a decade on is the product of a ten-month-long effort based on interviews with over 60 governmental officials and experts from nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The report offers key information about the history and workings of the P5 process, the initiative where the nuclear weapon states meet to discuss their obligations under the NPT, operating since 2009.
The report sets out eight practical recommendations for the P5 states which are grouped into three time periods to offer a systematic menu of options for the P5. Namely, steps that can be taken by the next NPT review conference (2020-2021), over the following ‘intersessional period’ (2021-2022), and throughout the ‘preparatory session’ for the 2025-2026 RevCon.
- For urgent action by the 2021 NPT review conference, the report calls for the nuclear-weapon states, the P5, to clarify their strategic intentions because mistrust and misperceptions about their nuclear doctrines are the chief impediment to substantive progress. Thus, by 2021, the P5 should resolve misunderstandings about each other’s doctrines by publishing a joint document outlining the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies and the circumstances in which they would consider the use of nuclear weapons.
- In the 2021-2022 intersessional period, the P5 should focus on enhancing the transparency of the P5 process (e.g., by broadening the scope of civil society and non-nuclear-weapon state engagement, setting a formal workplan with clear objectives and clearly communicating areas of disagreement).
- Ahead of the 2025-2026 NPT review conference, the P5 should adopt specific risk reduction measures in crisis communication. These steps would help the P5 to avoid and manage dangerous situations that could inadvertently escalate into war. In particular, the P5 should conclude a dedicated agreement to this end, modelled on bilateral US-USSR agreements from the early 1970s and 1980s, and establish a multilateral crisis hotline.
ELN Policy Fellow Dr Maximilian Hoell, the Principal Investigator of the report, said: “Mistrust about each other’s geostrategic intentions has slowed substantive progress in the P5 process. Despite geopolitical tensions, this report shows that there remain viable options for P5 cooperation towards a safer global order. If adopted, these recommendations could tangibly reduce nuclear risks within five years.”
ELN Research Director and co-author, Andreas Persbo said: “A healthy relationship between the five nuclear-armed members of the NPT is important for long-term sustainability of the treaty. This relationship has been deteriorating over the last five years. The P5 process is a unique venue through which this decline can be arrested, and with some political will, reversed. Our suggestions spotlight some useable paths to progress, but it’s up to the states themselves to display enough political courage to embark on them.”
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