Academic journal article Military Review

Transforming USAREUR for a Strategy of Preemption

Academic journal article Military Review

Transforming USAREUR for a Strategy of Preemption

Article excerpt

UNITED STATES Army Europe (USAREUR) is not optimally configured to carry out its missions in the 21st century. The developing concept of rapid, decisive operations (RDO) to support the U.S. strategy of preemption requires USAREUR to be far different from the truncated version of V Corps that came into being after the Cold War era ended.

Federal budget deficits raise the question: can the United States afford to pay the cost of transforming the Army to defeat tomorrow's enemies and also maintain the Army's aging but still powerful current force to fight today's foes? The answer might be that the United States has no other choice. Ultimately, the Army must prepare for today and tomorrow. (1) The Army cannot afford to ignore the present or the future; to do so is to run the unacceptable risk of being unable to defeat enemies decisively in brief campaigns with low casualties. The Nation needs V Corps. Failure to transform USAREUR into a power-projection force risks the existence of the command and its two divisions.

Does Europe Need V Corps?

America's strong European allies can fend for themselves on the ground, if necessary, given the current security environment. (2) Why keep a heavy corps in Germany when the Red Army will not be marching west? (3) After all, we deemed VII Corps unnecessary to defend Europe after the Persian Gulf war. And, after the Warsaw Pact collapsed, instead of returning to Germany or redeploying to the continental United States (CONUS), VII Corps was disbanded. Many Europeans are reluctant to support U.S. military missions. (The Germans in particular expressed this reluctance during their September 2002 elections.) This pressure might lead America to "reduce, redeploy, or even withdraw totally" V Corps and the rest of the Army in Europe. (4)

Because the Cold War has all but evaporated, does a secure Europe need V Corps? If not, should we deploy V Corps to Asia? Greater naval and air assets, not two surplus heavy divisions, seem better suited to address Asian security concerns. So, if we do not need V Corps in Germany or in Asia, do we need its two divisions at all?

Eliminating V Corps is a tempting course of action. Reducing personnel costs is the easiest way to pay for Transformation and the war against terrorism without hollowing out the current force. (5) Transformation envisions precision munitions linked to networks and reductions in Navy aircraft carriers, Air Force wings, and Army divisions. (6) Since Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001, the Army has come under pressure to downsize because precision firepower is seen as the way forward.

The Army failed to dispatch Task Force (TF) Hawk to Albania in a timely manner during Operation Allied Force and relied on the U.S. Special Operations Command to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. Even the 3d Infantry Division's spectacular, rapid drive to Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom failed to impress observers with the

power of U.S. Army heavy forces. Too many still view the conventional Army unfavorably and question its relevance. (7)

With USAREUR taking the point, the Army must defend its conventional role in RDO and preemption. (8) Before the events of 11 September 2001, the Army recognized the value of European forces for power projection. (9) European forces reduce mobility requirements and costs, warfighting risks, and the time required to deploy to trouble spots in Europe and Southwest Asia.

The war in Afghanistan and its surrounding states extended USAREUR's range of deployment eastward. A new interest in defending West African oil resources extends USAREUR's range of deployment southward along Africa's Atlantic coast. In July 2002, the deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Army European Command (EUCOM) visited Sao Tome and Principe, reportedly to discuss establishing a U.S. naval base there. (10) The two new areas added to USAREUR's range of deployment should increase USAREUR's value. …

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