The U.S. Army has shifted its focus to the Pacific, but the service now has a plan to support its NATO allies with rapid-deployment forces based in the United States if necessary, Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Wednesday.
The Army’s footprint in Europe continues to reduce dramatically from the Cold War force that numbered more than 200,000 soldiers. As the Pentagon pivots to the Pacific theater, while maintaining a presence in the Middle East, Army leaders maintain that a new strategy is in the works for managing European ground forces as well.
The service recently pulled another 12,000 soldiers out of Europe, which leaves two brigade combat teams and some logistics assets to work with NATO.
In addition to those permanently-stationed forces, the Pentagon recently approved a plan to provide a brigade-sized combat unit to be part of the NATO Response Force, Odierno said.
“In the past, we have supported it but never with a brigade,” Odierno told an audience at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. “That brigade will come from the United States.”
Odierno didn’t go into any detail about how a brigade would be selected at any given time.
This is part of Odierno’s vision to retain the Army’s ability to rapidly deploy forces anywhere in the world.
“We have got to build packages that allow us to deliver people quickly and in small increments based on the situations we might see,” Odierno said.
In addition to the new NATO Response Force role, the Army has also repurposed the massive training areas at Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels into the Joint Multinational Training Center, Odierno said.
“We are now using that as a platform to train with our NATO Allies and other European partners,” he said. “I can bring forces from the United States … over there to train with them. So although we have less people stationed forward, I like this set better because I think it is going to enable us to do more with our partners in a lot of different places.”