US needs to boost cyber, weapons capabilities in Europe to be able to win future conflicts, top general says
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 4, 2021
STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. military needs more long-range artillery and other advanced weaponry in Europe to be able to take on enemy forces in the event of a major conflict on the Continent, the top Army commander in Europe has said.
A new “Theater Fires Command,” which would include a multi-domain task force that brings together cyber, space and electronic warfighting capabilities, and more artillery, were among the things needed, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, said in a rare public speaking appearance late Wednesday.
“We are very eager to get capabilities like that over here,” he told a virtual Association of the U.S. Army meeting.
The Army has invested heavily in the past few years to improve long-range precision capabilities with the aim of being able to hit targets that are farther away, keeping U.S. and allied soldiers on the ground a safer distance from threats if war were to break out.
The Theater Fires Command would enable soldiers to “push away out of a close fight and be able to fight a little bit more at a standoff, so that when we do engage in a close fight, it would be under much more advantageous circumstances,” Cavoli said.
He didn’t put a timeline on when the new unit, which is still being developed, was likely to be installed in Europe.
A multi-domain task force, which would focus on countering advanced enemy defense systems to ensure U.S. forces can maneuver freely, is being planned for Europe later this year, the Army has said.
The first such task force, focused on the Pacific region, officially activated in the fall after a three-year development phase.
Multi-domain units could also have a role in supporting U.S. efforts in Africa, said Cavoli, who leads a newly consolidated four-star headquarters that also is responsible for Army efforts on that continent. The command’s expanded responsibilities mean the Wiesbaden, Germany, headquarters can think more “hemispherically” about strategy in Europe and Africa.
“Russia and China are extremely active in competing for influence and access in Africa,” Cavoli said.