WASHINGTON (CN) — To counter increased Russian aggression in Europe, the United States’ top general in charge of military operations in Europe told the Senate Tuesday that the U.S. needs to send more armored forces there.
The United States is transitioning from security and cooperation back to deterrence and security, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
“In short, we are returning to our historic role as a war fighting command,” he said.
Scaparrotti, commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said U.S. forces, which include a rotational brigade and two brigade combat teams, needs to be increased.
“Russia’s posture is not a light force, it’s a heavy force,” he said.
In the past five or six years Russia has invested in all aspects of its military forces in a broad manner, Scaparrotti said.
“In the east, a resurgent Russia has turned from partner to antagonist as it seeks to undermine the Western-led international order and reassert itself as a global power,” Scaparrotti said, and its use of the military to establish “facts on the ground” is becoming more apparent.
“We continue to see that drumbeat,” he told the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.
The general expressed concern that Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic, which the U.S. is watching closely, could indicate its intent to dominate a region with abundant oil and gas resources.
The United States needs to build up a credible force, big enough to deter Russia, should a crisis erupt, Scaparrotti said.
The United States has about 62,000 troops stationed in Europe.
“Our force posture needs to increase to provide credible deterrence to Russian aggression,” he said.
Russia respects force, Scaparrotti said. He encouraged the subcommittee to consider sending more troops to Europe to help the armored brigade, including engineers and aviation brigades.
He stressed the need for sustained funding to support and build up infrastructure capable of meeting the demands of what he called a dynamic new security environment in Europe.