An open letter to servicemembers, civilians and their families:

As you are aware, the European Command is embarking on a journey to transform from our current post-Cold War force structure and basing environment to one that is positioned to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century.

Hopefully many of you have read reporter Jon Anderson’s four-part series on transforming EUCOM in this week’s Stars and Stripes. This process is not being done in a vacuum, or in isolation, but in the most methodical and inclusive way possible. The Strategy Division of EUCOM’s Plans and Policy Directorate has done outstanding work as our lead staff element. However, the entire EUCOM leadership team has been working at this transformation plan for several months, and there is still much work to be done, both within EUCOM and in Washington.

Our pledge to each of you is we will get this right. We owe you no less than our very best. While some changes will occur quickly, others will take longer. The bottom line is this: We are making these necessary adjustments to meet the 21st century’s challenges, knowing full that we must keep faith with you and your families.

We have witnessed a number of unprecedented events since Sept. 11, 2001: the war on terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is easy to see our world has changed dramatically. And, as with any change, the U.S. military must adapt to meet the security environment challenges of the 21st century. These are more asymmetrical in nature and do not fit easily into any particular military category.

For this command to remain viable and at the forefront of implementing U.S. foreign policy objectives, it must remain engaged with our tried-and-true allies in Europe, and also must forge new security ties with emerging countries who look to us for development, leadership and friendship.

Along with these new security realities, the possibility exists that we may have to shift some of our forces and basing assets east and south to give us the flexibility, agility and ability to project power in areas where new challenges are emerging. Some of our forces will return to the CONUS and deploy periodically on a rotational basis. Finally, we will make our current basing footprint more efficient.

As we undertake this important work, we will be mindful to do what is in the best interest of our country, our men and women in uniform, DOD civilians and, of course, our families. I encourage you to stay abreast of the issues being considered during this transformation process and to ask questions through your chain of command. It’s important we separate fact from fiction, and that’s why our senior commanders and I have continued to go on the record regarding these bold steps. I look forward to working with each of you as we shape EUCOM’s future together, and I value highly the great contributions each of you makes to the attainment of our national objectives and the enhancement of the NATO Alliance.

James L. JonesGeneral, USMCCommander, U.S. European CommandStuttgart, Germany

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