Friday, March 30, 2007

Dull Tip of the Spear?

Our European Command commander thinks we have too few Army troops stationed in Europe to accomplish its missions:

The U.S. military’s top general in Europe said the continuing rotation of Europe-based troops to higher-priority missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the relocation of troops from Europe to the U.S., has left his cupboard a tad bare.

Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock of the U.S. European Command said he is concerned he might not have enough troops to carry out his command’s top priorities: working effectively with partner nations and waging war if necessary in his area of responsibility.

Past reports indicate that we may have only a parachute brigade and a Stryker brigade as major combat formations. Other reports indicated a bit more. I couldn't figure out if it would mean one or two Stryker brigades in addition to the two brigades for sure (see here and here). And I didn't know if it meant that one or two Stryker brigades in eastern Europe would perhaps rotate their battalions through those bases rather than have the full brigades there.

I figured we'd really want five combat brigades in order to use European bases as a jumping off point for intervention in an entire arc of crisis from West Africa to Central Asia.

Right now, General Craddock isn't confident he will have the forces needed to carry out his missions. I'm not sure if this is a short-term concern based on deployments to Iraq or based on what is envisioned for the future.

UPDATE: A mailing from the Association of the United States Army notes that we will have one Stryker brigade in Germany and one parachute brigade in Italy. Those east European bases will not host their own Stryker brigades. The only question is whether the Germany-based brigade rotates task forces through those bases or whether we plan on bringing in units from the continental United States for that purpose. The latter seems unlikely since the other five Stryker brigades will be based in Washington state (three), Alaska (one), and Hawaii (one). That's a long way to move Pacific-oriented units. So yeah, United States Army Europe is going to be pretty darned small for its tasks at hand.