While EUCOM will effect a 15 percent decrease in troop numbers on the continent, that withdrawal will be compensated for with more military aircraft, ships and special operations forces.
The top EUCOM and NATO commander confirmed "that forces assigned to Eucom will stay actively engaged in vital real-world missions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East."
In Stavridis' April 30th blog on the EUCOM website entitled "Sailing on to the NATO Chicago Summit" (the author is an admiral of course), he spoke of recent joint meetings of NATO defense and foreign ministers and of chiefs of defense staff ahead of this month's summit in Chicago.
"I gave several briefings to both groups concerning global situation from an operational standpoint. In addition to discussing Afghanistan, Syria, the Pacific, the Balkans, and the lessons of Libya, we finalized the key topics for the upcoming Summit."
They are the war in Afghanistan which, he claimed, despite "the occasional 'high profile incident'" (like a U.S. soldier butchering sixteen Afghan civilians in Kandahar province in March or the large-scale rebel attacks in the capital the following month), "continue[s] along reasonably well."
Stavridis asserted that at the NATO summit in Chicago "the 28 NATO nations and the additional 22 partner nations will make a decade-long commitment to Afghanistan post-2014" in terms of building a NATO-interoperable national military on the borders of Iran, Pakistan and China.
The second point to be discussed is expansion and integration of NATO military operational capabilities, most notably the initial activation of the U.S.-NATO interceptor missile system in Europe (and beyond that to the South Caucasus, the Persian Gulf and India), which Stavridis described in benign terms as though it was a species of foreign aid:
"The NATO nations were happy to see the successful deployment of a US-based missile defense shield into Europe. They agreed to fold it into the NATO defensive structure, thus fulfilling treaty commitments as well as finding ways to contribute both financially and with their own systems in the future."
Another aspect of the upgrading of NATO operational capabilities in Europe includes the Alliance Ground Surveillance System, "which buys a Global-Hawk like unmanned aircraft fleet and deploys it to Italy under control of the NATO Command Structure."
Pooling and sharing military resources under NATO's so-called Smart Defense program to further integrate respective national capabilities into a supranational NATO structure also include the alliance's over eight-year-old Baltic Air Policing mission which deploys warplanes from major NATO member states to skirt the borders of northwestern Russia.
The third item on the summit agenda is consolidating and expanding the military bloc's partnerships throughout the world, a project recently augmented by NATO's latest partnership category, Partners across the globe.
NATO's top military commander Stavridis had this to say on the subject:
"NATO has been very successful in partnering with a wide variety of nations in missions across the last ten years. In Afghanistan, we have 22 international partners with troops on the ground, from Tonga, Australia, and New Zealand in the south Pacific to El Salvador (and soon, hopefully, Colombia) from Latin America.
"In the Libyan campaign, we also had the good fortune to have five partners from the Arab world, as well as traditional ally Sweden."
His allusion to Colombia sending troops to Afghanistan, as El Salvador recently has, even as the U.S. and NATO insist they are withdrawing troops from the country, is to be taken seriously as Stavridis was commander of United States Southern Command until taking up his current EUCOM and NATO positions. Southern Command's area of responsibility comprises South and Central America and the Caribbean Sea. As such, he was the key U.S. military official in charge of American-Colombian military relations and operations.
His blog post mentioned several "partnership events" to be held during the Chicago summit.