EUCOM leaders meet with Eastern European officials
STUTTGART, Germany — More than two dozen representatives from the Black Sea and Caucasus regions met with U.S. European Command officials Wednesday to gain a better understanding of U.S. forces in the region.
The military officers and civilians also peppered EUCOM leaders with questions about how the command differs from NATO, and whether their particular country could get the sort of partnerships that have helped other countries in the region.
“There are a lot of things we can learn from [EUCOM] and help [it] can give us,” said Borys Andsesuk, first deputy chairman from Ukraine. “We have seen a lot, but this is only the first step.”
On Wednesday, staffers from EUCOM, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Naval Forces Europe spent the day briefing the representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey.
The representatives also met with officials with Marine Forces Europe, which is headquartered just outside Stuttgart.
The officers and civilians were taking part in a Kennedy School of Government program at Harvard University. Harvard approached EUCOM about hosting the daylong program in March.
The session marked the first time the students have actually gone to EUCOM instead of learning about the command in the classroom.
Stuttgart was the group’s first stop on its way to the United States.
The civilians were from departments that are analogous to the U.S. State Department and Defense Department.
The benefits for EUCOM are many, said Army Maj. Ted Donnelly, a EUCOM desk officer for Ukraine and Moldova, who spent the past two months organizing the event.
EUCOM officials can get a handle on exactly what the leaders from those countries would like from the U.S. military, Donnelly said, and personal contacts can be developed.
“You get that face time you need that pays off later,” Donnelly said.
Another benefit, he said, is that it would be difficult for top EUCOM brass to visit all of the eight countries that visited. But this way, by having representatives come to Stuttgart, those countries can still learn a lot about the command from its top leaders.
EUCOM officials quickly learned what sort of military-to-military interactions the countries wanted.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler, EUCOM chief of plans and policy, said there was a great interest in Georgia Train and Equipment.
“They wanted to know how they could be next,” Kohler said.
GTEP is intensive training — first by Special Forces troops and now the U.S. Marines — of Georgian soldiers. The United States also gives them weapons, like rifles, uniforms, basic equipment for the field and some vehicles.
The countries were also interested in receiving “defense assessments,” Kohler said.
A defense assessment is when the United States examines a country’s military strength and assets, and then makes recommendations for improvement.