Despite the increase in operations by US Africa Command—including forthcoming relief flights to support African Union and UN peacekeepers in Sudan—US European Command’s top general said these activities have not yet placed an excessive drain on his assets. “We haven’t had the capacity issues yet,” Army Gen. Bantz Craddock, said during a Jan. 9 meeting with reporters in Washington, D.C. He added, however, that they “may well develop” since AFRICOM draws upon EUCOM facilities, personnel, and hardware. For example, US Air Forces in Europe is the supporting authority to AFRICOM’s air component, 17th Air Force, with the latter leaning on USAFE to help provide the aircraft that it uses to execute its missions on the African continent. Craddock said there is some concern about these demands since EUCOM forces are already “too small” to accomplish their own assigned tasks with the continuing drawdown of US levels in Europe as the US military reorients itself more toward Asia and the Pacific. As a result, he said he has already recommended that the Pentagon leadership halt the drawdown of Army forces in Europe, make no changes to US Air Forces in Europe’s current air assets, and add some naval capacity to help meet requirements. If AFRICOM has additional needs, then the DOD will have to provide men and materiel either on a rotational basis or by permanently assigning forces to the new command, Craddock said. One area where Craddock isn’t concerned about shortages is ramp space. “We’ve got plenty of places to put the [air]frames,” he said. Both USAFE and 17th AF are headquartered at Ramstein, AB, Germany. Craddock mentioned Naval Station Rota, Spain, as another location in Europe with available infrastructure.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.