Although the Pentagon is conducting an assessment of its European infrastructure, US European Command boss Gen. Philip Breedlove said he believes there should be no further decreases in force structure on the continent. “I think we have infrastructure that can be divested, but not force structure,” he told Pentagon reporters on Monday. As of now, US force levels in Europe are “just right,” he said. But if sequester-related cuts return, those levels will be under budgetary threat again. Breedlove wants to expand the presence of rotational forces, such as Army units visiting Poland and the Baltic States and Air Force deployments to support air-policing operations. “I believe there is a requirement for more forces in the future until we see the [security] situation normalize,” he said. Breedlove said he is now having discussions with all the service Chiefs regarding establishing forward-based equipment and supply locations on the continent, in order to give the United States and NATO “more-responsive capabilities” in the future should the need arise. The United States is now manning its aviation detachment rotation in Poland “a little more aggressively than planned,” said Breedlove, with a greater C-130 and F-16 presence in the country than was initially planned. (Breedlove transcript)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.