By Cheryl Pellerin
The Defense Department’s fiscal year 2018 budget request includes nearly $4.8 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative to enhance deterrence and defense and improve the readiness of forces in Europe, the U.S. European Command director of strategy, plans and policy said Thursday.
Air Force Maj. Gen. David W. Allvin held a telephone briefing with reporters, speaking from Eucom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
ERI funding for next fiscal year is up $1.4 billion over fiscal 2017, he said, noting that the funding increase will support the deterrence of future Russian aggression and malign influence through increased joint air, sea and land force responsiveness and expanded interoperability with combined multinational forces.
“This is one of our nation’s commitments to Europe, and it demonstrates our strong dedication to the trans-Atlantic bond and the defense of our allies,” Allvin said.
After Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the United States authorized ERI at $985 million in 2015, $789 million in 2016 and $3.4 billion in 2017. Operation Atlantic Resolve, funded partly by ERI, demonstrates to NATO allies and the world the ‘U.S. intent to fulfill NATO treaty commitments to respond to threats against allies.
ERI Focus Areas
Allvin said ERI’s main focus areas include:
- Increased presence. “We’re proposing a more robust U.S. military rotational presence throughout the theater that is capable of deterring and, if required, responding to any regional threats,” he said. The ERI 2018 budget funds this at $1.7 billion, according to the budget document.
- Exercises and training. Eucom is increasing the training tempo to improve overall readiness and interoperability with U.S. allies and partners, the general said. This is funded at $218 million.
- Enhanced pre-positioning. “This is a strategic placement of equipment throughout the theater that supports our steady-state activities while also enabling us to rapidly deploy forces into theater if required,” he added. This is funded at $2.2 billion.
- Improving infrastructure. This is funded at $338 million.
- Building partnership capacity. The general said this strengthens the ability of allies and partners to defend themselves and enables their full participation with U.S. operational forces. This is funded at $267 million.
The fiscal 2018 ERI budget request also includes $150 million to continue train, equip and advise efforts to build Ukraine’s capacity to conduct internal defense operations to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and support institutional transformation efforts, according to the fiscal 2018 budget document.
“As we continue to address the dynamic security environment in Europe,” Eucom Commander Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti said in a news release this week, “ERI funding increases our joint capabilities to deter and defend against Russian aggression. These significant investments will further galvanize U.S. support to the collective defense of our NATO allies and bolster the security and capacity of our U.S. partners.”
Allvin said that ERI facilitates Eucom’s capability as a warfighting command “that’s ready with assets, equipment and experience to confront aggression.”
According to the Eucom news release, in fiscal 2018 the U.S. Army will continue its rotational armored brigade combat team and combat aviation brigade presence.
The Army also will increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capability; enhance integrated air and missile defense efforts; continue enhanced interoperability and deterrence exercises; and enhance its prepositioned stocks unit sets of equipment.
The Air Force will increase ISR processing, exploitation and dissemination activities with European allies, continue supporting missions such as NATO air policing and theater security, and enhance pre-positioning of contingency air operations equipment. The Air Force also will improve airfield infrastructure and preposition air operations equipment and enablers in NATO ally countries.
The Navy will increase theater anti-submarine warfare support and pre-position anti-submarine warfare equipment. It also will increase surface mine-countermeasure assets, and plan and design for infrastructure improvements in NATO ally countries related to theater anti-submarine warfare and joint reception and staging onward movement and integration.
The Marine Corps will increase its rotational presence throughout the theater and increase pre-positioning assets.
The Defense Department will support NATO and multinational exercises and Eucom’s Joint Exercise Program, participate in NATO very-high-readiness joint task force exercises, and fund multinational information-sharing capability.
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