PACOM Supports Reconsideration of European Force Cuts

US Pacific Command boss Adm. Samuel Locklear said increasing tensions with Russia warrant reconsideration of plans to reduce America’s military presence in Europe, though he said he doesn’t believe the move would impact the planned Pacific pivot. In a Pentagon briefing earlier this month, US European Command boss Gen. Philip Breedlove said he was concerned about the plans to draw down US forces in Europe, particularly after the destruction of a Malaysian airliner by a Russian-built surface-to-air missile apparently fired by Russian separatists. Addressing Pentagon reporters July 29, Adm. Samuel Locklear said he agreed that, “given the ongoing environment we’re seeing in Europe that probably a re-look at US force posture there and a NATO posture in general … is important.” Locklear said the military reductions resulting from sequestration put “greater stress on the force to be able to stay forward” in the numbers that most of the combatant commanders would like. Among the planned force reductions in Europe is a sharp cut in Air Force F-15s, but Col. Robert Novotny, the new commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, England, suggested this week that this was no time to talk about cutting the only F-15 unit in Europe.