Hardened but Narrow

After a decade of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army is battle-hardened but unprepared to fight a broader array of potential threats, said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of US Army Europe. “What I might suggest is that we are a tactically savvy Army that has been fighting a specific kind of conflict, and it’s now time to expand ourselves a little bit and find ways to understand that we need to train and prepare for other kinds of conflict,” Hertling told reporters Wednesday in Washington D.C. In Europe, the threats of everything from transnational terrorism and drug trafficking to Russian disruption of energy to allies in Central and Eastern Europe are real concerns, he said. “There are additionally some of the old ethnic threats,” added Hertling. US soldiers in Kosovo “were in a pretty significant tussle a few weeks ago” and tensions linger, he noted. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get out of COIN and maybe understand some of the future threats,” he summed. “That’s the hardest thing we have on our plate.”