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USAFE chief: Military doing '360-degree' review of basing in Europe

U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa commander Gen. Tod D. Wolters during an interview with Stars and Stripes at USAFE headquarters on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 4, 2016. Wolters said Wednesday that his command was examining how military infrastructure is spread out across Europe as part of a broader review of potential vulnerabilities.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 25, 2018

STUTTGART, Germany — The top U.S. Air Force officer in Europe said Wednesday that his command is examining how military sites are spread out across Europe as part of a review to identify potential vulnerabilities.

“We’ve been asked to take a look at infrastructure throughout the entire European continent,” U.S. Air Forces in Europe chief Gen. Tod D. Wolters said during a news conference.

Wolters, who was asked whether the Air Force is reviewing the merits of moving more airmen into Poland, said he is taking a broad look at how military facilities are arranged, from the Arctic to NATO’s southern and eastern flanks.

“We’re looking at the European continent from a 360-degree position to make sure we don’t leave any vulnerabilities,” he said.

Since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, the military has expanded missions in Eastern Europe, where U.S. troops rotations have steadily increased. USAFE has a year-round mission in Poland manned by a rotating group of troops.

There is a debate within the military about whether a more permanent presence should be established in Poland, which has lobbied Washington for more U.S. forces.

The Pentagon could soon be required to consider basing more servicemembers there and elsewhere in Europe, in keeping with pending federal legislation that calls for a military study.

Meanwhile, Wolters said USAFE has steadily built up military infrastructure during the past few years in the Baltics and Poland, where the U.S. has invested in airfield upgrades and depots for pre-positioned equipment.

Later this year, the Air Force will be rotating fifth-generation aircraft into Europe to train with allies, Wolters said.

He did not specify which warplanes would be deploying, but the Air Force’s fifth-generation aircraft include F-22 and F-35 fighters.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver

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