Go East, Young Airman

Though he’s “satisfied” with the current base structure in Europe, Gen. Frank Gorenc, head of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, said his command is looking to “explore” using many more airfields on the continent. Gorenc, who specifically mentioned Poland and Romania, said those airfields will mostly be in the “South and East.” Speaking with defense writers in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Gorenc said “for the first time in a long time, there’s great balance between infrastructure and force structure” in USAFE-AFAFRICA, even though the current base structure was shaped before Russia’s adventurism in Crimea and elsewhere. The current structure is adequate for permanent and rotational forces, he said, but under a program called “Rapid X”, USAFE will also be looking at using bases “that don’t have the full infrastructure” of a NATO base. The idea is to be “very agile,” bringing in maybe four aircraft, refueling and re-arming them, and possibly? recovering them at yet another airfield. This would “create challenges for any potential adversary” trying to “interrupt” NATO operations, Gorenc said. He’s also working on being able to routinely deploy to Eastern European bases with practice deployments, such as last year’s “Rapid Raptor” deployment of four F-22s. This innovation will “take people and … aircraft into places where they don’t normally operate,” and “make the adversary’s problem that much harder.” He doesn’t foresee re-opening any bases closed under the 2012 European Infrastructure Consolidation just now.