US European forces chief calls for more warships to respond to Russian threat

US Navy file photo

The US needs more surface vessels and anti-submarine warfare assets in Europe to counter evolving threats in the region, the commander of US European Command said in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 5.

“As you know … we’re looking at an evolving and modernizing Russian fleet,” Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti told the committee. “If we want to remain dominant in the maritime domain — in particular, the undersea, which we are today — we have got to continue to modernize and continue to build capacity.”

The specifics of what Scaparrotti needs in Europe would be revealed later in the day during a closed session with the committee, but he openly said he’d need two more naval destroyers and that Eucom would need to enhance its anti-submarine warfare capability as well.

Additionally, the general said he’d like to see rotations of naval components, including carrier strike groups and amphibious strike groups, “at a little better pace than I’ve seen in the three years I’ve been in command.”

It wasn’t just maritime forces that need bolstering in Europe to counter threats there or to enhance deterrence, Scaparrotti said. Ground forces also need to be strengthened, he told the Senate panel, and he’s looking for enhancements to critical mission support as well.

“Finally of concern is my intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capacity, given that increasing and growing threat of Russia,” he said. “I need more ISR.”

 

NATO Interoperability

 

A recent NATO study on logistics and infrastructure highlighted many of the interoperability challenges in Europe, Scaparrotti told lawmakers, and that has resulted in a commitment of about $7 billion by the European Union to invest in logistics and infrastructure over the next five or six years.

“We’ve got to follow up and make sure that investment goes to the right places and make a difference in military mobility,” he said.

The threats faced by the US and allies in Europe are real, and growing, Scaparrotti told the panel.

“They are complex, transregional, all-domain, and multifunctional,” he said. “This remains one of the most dynamic periods in recent history, in my view. Russia has continued its reemergence as a strategic competitor, and remains the primary threat to a stable Euro-Atlantic security environment.”

While progress has been made in Europe, including adding new forces and capabilities, as well as improvements to readiness, Scaparrotti said more remains to be done.

“I would tell you … I’m not comfortable yet with the deterrent posture that we have in Europe in support of the National Defense Strategy,” he said.

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