Rotating Forces or Permanent Presence in Europe?

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, chief of US European Command, told Congress on Tuesday that he needs more US troops in Europe. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, he said the roughly 60,000 troops stationed there currently make up “a force that allows us to deter today,” but EUCOM is “looking to modernize that force” as it moves toward a “posture of deterrence and defense” in relation to Russia. Scaparrotti said he needs “an additional division,” and he asked specifically for “armored and mech brigades.” While some US forces have deployed to Europe on a rotational basis in recent years, Scaparrotti said that, with the new troops, “I would prefer to have an enduring armed force in Europe” because “the force then becomes accustomed to the environment.” However, Scaparrotti acknowledged there is some benefit to rotating forces because “much more of our force strength becomes familiar” with the specific operational environment and the allied partners.

Scaparrotti said USAF has a “very capable posture” in Europe. Air Force presence there has been enhanced since 2015 through rotational theater security packages, like the one that recently deployed to Leeuwarden AB, Netherlands. Some 300 airmen and 12 F-15Cs from the Louisiana and Florida Air National Guard began duties at Leeuwarden this week in support of NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve. “We’re providing forward forces for commanders if they need them,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Fischer, commander of the 122nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, according to a press release. “We’re building partnerships with our NATO allies and looking to deter any potential Russian aggression.”