Stop Cutting USAFE

Echoing comments made earlier this year by US European Command leader Army Gen. Bantz Craddock that US forces in Europe may be too few for assigned tasks, the top airman in Europe told reporters that he believes further reductions of the USAF presence on the continent is not a good idea. “I think reducing assets is not a good thing,” said Gen. Roger Brady, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, to the Defense Writers Group in Washington Thursday. “I think it does not send the right signal to either our allies or to people whose motivations may be questioned.” Several NATO allies raised concerns about Russia’s actions in Georgia last summer and are looking for signs that alliance solidarity is intact—not diminishing. Brady added that his advice to senior leadership is to hold off on further reductions to help deter potential adversaries but also to be able to continue with all-important capacity-building activities with allies. Saying partnership building is “not just drinking tea,” Brady noted that the less iron on the ramp, the less manpower—whether pilots, maintainers, or firefighters—he has to partner with the 26 NATO allies across the theater. Achieving interoperability, such as with Poland’s recently acquired F-16 force, is critical, asserted Brady. “The less I have on the ramp, the less I have to build relationships with,” he said.