Commander: NATO Provides Pentagon Base For Global Operations
The Defense Department's news agency, American Forces Press Service, reported on May 3 that Admiral James Stavridis, commander of United States European Command (EUCOM) and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, applauded the roles of EUCOM and NATO as being critical to American global military and geopolitical interests.
The fact that the same four-star commander, always an American, invariably holds both posts simultaneously indicates the degree to which the Pentagon's EUCOM, which took in almost all of Africa in its area of responsibility until spawning U.S. Africa Command and still includes Israel, and NATO are inseparably connected.
EUCOM and NATO, the admiral noted, remain vital to U.S. military efforts not only in Europe but in Africa, the Middle East and Asia as Washington increases its military presence and escalates its involvement in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.
"Let's face it: our most enduring pool of partners exists in the European theater," Stavridis said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
NATO collectively, he boasted, has three million men and women under arms, 24,000 military aircraft and 800 ships. The 26 European members of the alliance spend $300 billion a year on their military budgets, which with last year's U.S. and Canadian defense spending totals over $1 trillion.
Though Europe may be the base for launching military operations, it is not the main venue for them, the dual commander noted:
"This is an alliance of enormous resources, and it represents those that stand with us today in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in the Libya operation and in [the Horn of Africa region]. So these strategic, enduring partnerships in Europe are going to underpin the strategic focus on the challenges in Asia and in the Middle East."
The same Defense Department feature cited above quoted Navy Rear Admiral Mark C. Montgomery, EUCOM's deputy director for plans, policy and strategy, stating that to conduct military operations outside of Europe "we need to actually redouble our efforts to maintain our partners' capability and capacity."
By way of reciprocity, Stavridis' former chief of staff and current deputy commander of EUCOM, Navy Vice Admiral Charles W. Martoglio, added that American military firepower is "the glue that enables NATO to operate at the high level of efficiency that it does."
American Forces Press Service added this:
"But beyond the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance, Stavridis noted Europe's strategic geographic position. Forces easily can pivot from Europe into the Middle East, the Levant area at the crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeastern Africa, the Mediterranean as during the Libya operations, and down into Africa, he said."
Vice Admiral Martoglio identified the main purpose of EUCOM's "forward presence" in relation to global U.S. strategy:
"We are a nation that has an expeditionary capability. We fight our wars overseas so we don't fight them on our own shores. And Europe and our European partners are huge enablers of that expeditionary military capability."
Stavridis made the same point, in much the same language quoted earlier, in stating:
"Being in Europe gives us the opportunity to train, exercise and work every day with this combat-ready force that has fought with us in Afghanistan, the Balkans, in [counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea] and other missions. So there are a lot of good reasons for us to be engaged and "home-ported,' as we would say in the Navy, in Europe."