With the reduction of US forces in Europe, the Army is demonstrating America’s restated commitment to its allies by rotating troops from the US for multinational exercises and relying extensively on allied air, said Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, deputy commanding general of US Army Europe. “Anybody who’s been deployed in combat is a big fan of the Air Force. It’s the most responsive weapon system we have,” Piatt told reporters during an Oct. 16 meeting in Washington, D.C. But, he said, the solution for shortages in Europe is not more US forces. “Most of the time it’s a multinational solution” and there are great capabilities within the Alliance. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a US plane, if it’s a German plane, whoever is above you. And it doesn’t matter who the soldier is on the ground calling in those munitions,” he said. In one exercise, “we had seven different teams from four different countries. We had Hungarian air tactical controllers calling in a German Tornado for a US battalion … That’s interoperability. That’s how the Alliance works,” Piatt said. However, he said the Army has been “well supported” by the Air Force, noting that a recent air assault exercise in Latvia “could not have been done without the US Air Force.” (See also Looking East from the September 2014 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.