The first phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense system is ready for initial operations, although the official announcement will not come until next week’s NATO summit in Chicago, said US officials in a Pentagon news release May 15. “We will announce the interim operational capability of that system, which will begin to protect our European partners from the threat of ballistic missiles,” said Adm. James Stavridis, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and US European Command boss. EPAA phase one—the first of four phases of increasing sophistication planned by 2020—combines US Aegis ships operating in the Mediterranean that are equipped with anti-missile interceptors and radar, a ground-based radar in Kurecik, Turkey, and NATO’s command and control element at Ramstein AB, Germany. “Those three elements come together to provide us with an initial operational capability to provide some level of defense of Europe against a threat emanating from the Middle East,” said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, EUCOM’s deputy director for plans, policy, and strategy. (AFPS report by Donna Miles) (See also Those Crazy Ruskies.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.