European Security Plus Up Contained in OCO Spending

The Fiscal 2015 overseas contingency operations request offers more details into the Obama Administration’s “European Reassurance Initiative,” which looks to increase activity in Europe in the wake of the recent crisis in Crimea. Approximately $925 million of $1 billion slated for the initiative will be set aside for the Defense Department over the next two years, DOD leaders told members of the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. Some $440 million of this will go into increasing the US military presence in Europe, including augmenting NATO’s air policing mission and “temporarily delaying” planned USAF F-15C withdrawals from Europe. Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith said the additional funds for Europe security operations is a laudable effort, but comes at a time when DOD is closing facilities and scaling back its presence there. “What are we willing to provide and for how long?” he asked. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) acknowledged the US is a NATO member, but wanted to know exactly what the ERI promises. “Why does Europe need to be reassured?” he asked rhetorically. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told the committee most of the funding would allow for more exercises, “more frequent forward deployments,” and improvement of infrastructure, such as munitions storage, which would provide “rapid reinforcement” in a crisis.