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 News Article

Work Thanks European Command Troops for Service

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

STUTTGART, Germany, April 17, 2015 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work discussed issues confronting U.S. European Command during a visit with military leaders at Patch Barracks here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, center, is greeted by Army Lt. Gen. William Garrett, deputy commander, U.S. European Command as he arrives on Stuttgart Army Airfield, Germany, April 16, 2015, to meet with leaders of U.S. European Command. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Work met with Eucom commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove -- who’s also NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe -- and other leaders to discuss enhanced security postures, including Russian actions in Ukraine, efforts of the command to reassure allies in the region, and attempts to block fighters from joining the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The deputy secretary also visited with service members at Eucom and U.S. Africa Command before heading back to Washington.

Thanking Service Members, Families

“I’d like to thank all those serving and supporting our military forces all across U.S. European Command,” Work said in a message that will be broadcast on American Forces Network in Europe.

The deputy secretary said service members and DoD civilians have served with distinction since 9/11, and they are still contributing.

“What you are doing is extremely important to the security of the great nation we serve together,” he said. “It is clear the U.S. military presence here plays an invaluable role. Your efforts continue to strengthen our relationships with allies and partners, which underwrites our military activity in the region.”

Reassuring Allies

The United States has maintained troops on the continent since the end of World War II, officials said. Currently, American forces in Europe are reassuring NATO allies following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and other Russian actions in Eastern Ukraine.

Eucom officials said the emphasis includes NATO allies bordering Russia, often referred to as the “Eastern Eight” -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

“We have a presence and an assurance mission through 2016,” a Eucom official said, speaking on background. “We have units in the Baltics and Poland, and NATO does the command and control. We have large-scale exercises planned with a massive exercise set next year in Poland.”

While NATO brings online its rapid reaction task force, the United States brings in equipment, and continues reassurance with heel-to-toe deployments, the official said.

Partnering With NATO

“All the time, U.S. European Command is working with NATO to enhance the training experience and develop capabilities with partner nations,” he said.

A significant number of ethnic Russians live in the Baltic Republics and many in those countries believe Russia might try to do there what it did in Ukraine, officials said.

Russia could use other elements of power -- diplomatic, economic, information -- to influence Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and to try to drive a wedge into NATO, Eucom officials said. But polls show the Russians in the three Baltic republics are generally content with the status quo, according to officials.

“Would Putin test that? He could,” an official said. “From what we see it is not in Russia’s strategic interest to do so -- yet. If it gets worse for him, he may strike out there or elsewhere just to build up nationalism.”

European Command officials said they are seeing rotations of Russian units moving into and out of Eastern Ukraine even though Russian President Vladimir Putin insists there are no Russian forces in the country.

U.S. Works With Allies in Europe

At one point, a Eucom official said, there were 350,000 service members assigned to U.S. European Command, with two full Army corps based in West Germany.

“What does the American presence in Europe buy the United States? For one thing 70 years of peace,” the official said. “But it’s more. American presence gives the United States established relationships with our closest allies. These are the countries that have fought alongside us in Afghanistan and Iraq, have worked together to alleviate suffering in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)

Contact Author

Bob Work
Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove

Related Sites:
Special Report: Travels With Work
Special Report: Operation Atlantic Resolve – America’s Continued Commitment to European Security
Special Report: U.S. European Command
U.S. European Command
U.S. Africa Command
Special Report: Operation Inherent Resolve – Targeted Operations Against ISIL Terrorists

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Gen. David M. Rodriguez, U.S. Africa Command’s commander, welcomes Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to the command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, April 17, 2015. U.S. Africa Command photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Olufemi A. Owolabi  
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