Top U.S. commander: More assets needed in Europe to counter Russian threat

March 5, 2019

The top U.S. general for NATO and military operations in Europe said Tuesday he needs more troops and warships in Europe to meet a growing threat from Russia.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he is not yet comfortable with the deterrent posture that we have in Europe to counter stepped-up aggression from Moscow.

In light of Russias modernizing and increasingly aggressive force posture, [the U.S. European command] recommends augmenting our assigned and rotational forces to enhance our deterrence posture, Gen. Scaparrotti said.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, questioned the general on why the U.S. has only provided Ukraines military with one defense mechanism to back up pledges to supply Kiev with lethal aid against a Russian-backed separatist army.

It has to go through policy deliberations, Gen. Scaparrotti explained, adding that the U.S. may help Ukraine strengthen is sniper capabilities.

Congress has been hesitant to provide Ukraine with additional lethal equipment out of fears the move could spark wider conflict with Russia.

Gen. Scaparrotti called for two additional naval destroyers to be stationed in Europe, and explained that his command needs greater capacity particularly given the modernization and growth of the fleets, Russian fleets in Europe.

During the hearing, which came just weeks after a major international security summit in Munich, Gen. Scaparrotti also told the committee that his best military advice to reject the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey if the country purchases an S-400 air defense system from Russia.

Turkey intends to purchase 100 F-35s, but the transaction has come with stark warnings from both U.S. and European officials who have raised concerns that Russia could obtain significant information on the aircraft if they are used in conjunction with the Russian air defense system. Ankara has insisted it will continue the Russian military purchase.