Strength and balance: For the more than 75,000 men and women who serve across the European theater supporting the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) mission, 2018 was a dynamic year for activity. One of only two geographic combatant commands based overseas, USEUCOM’s operational and engagement successes were a direct result of the hard work and expertise of the command’s five components, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Air Forces Europe, U.S. Marine Forces Europe and U.S. Special Operations Command Europe.
Allies and partnerships: With the numerous exercises and outreach activities USEUCOM participated in throughout the year, 2018 demonstrated the command’s steadfast commitment to the NATO alliance and European partners. Working closely with allies and partners, the USEUCOM team was where it mattered, when it mattered, actively engaged in addressing real-worldchallenges, including Russian disinformation and malign activityand actions by violent extremist organizations (VEOs) across the Middle East. Highlights from 2018 include U.S. participation with France and the United Kingdom (UK) conducting air strikeson chemical weapons facilities in Syria; coordination with NATO ally Turkey to conduct interoperability rehearsals and combined joint patrols in Syria; participation in Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War in Norway, and commemorating more than 50 World War I centennial events.
Interoperability: To strengthen and enhance operational readiness, USEUCOM conducted nearly 100 exercises with allies and partners from approximately 30 countries. As an example of the depth and breadth of USEUCOM support and collaboration with partners, USEUCOM was engaged in Greece where 150 U.S. Marines and 150 Greek military personnel participated in Exercise Alexander the Great, an exercise to increase interoperability between the U.S. and Hellenic Armed Forces, and to strengthen NATO partnerships in support of stability throughout the region. In Israel, USEUCOM personnelparticipated in Juniper Cobra 2018, the ninth in a series of biennial ballistic missile defense and interoperability exercises. Participation included more than 2,500 U.S. personnel ashore and afloat and a similar number of Israeli Defense Force (IDF)personnel. In Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden, the USEUCOM team participated in the NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2018. More than 14,000 U.S. service members alongsidemembers of all 29 NATO nations made up the approximately 40,000 participating troops in total. In the Baltic Sea, the premier maritime-led annual exercise, Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), was conducted focusing on a variety of activities including training to effectively counter aircraft, ship and submarine attacks, coordination between air and maritime units, and live gunnery and mine countermeasures operations. Additionally, in the Baltic region and Poland, U.S. troops participated in Exercise Saber Strike, a cooperative training exercise to enhance relationships among the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and in allied and partner nations.
Outreach and commemoration: In 2018, USEUCOM participated in many high-visibility outreach events, including Memorial Day 2018 ceremonies at 22 U.S. military cemeteries in six European countries: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and the UK. More than 20 USEUCOM and U.S.-based units participated in approximately 50 events and ceremonies in 36 locations throughout the Normandy region of France as part of D-Day 74. Key events included a commemorative airborne operation in Sainte-Mere-Eglise on June 3, and a D-Day Ceremony at Utah Beach June 6.
Additionally, 2018 marked the pinnacle year of the World War I Centennial commemoration, to include the 100th anniversary of the Saint-Mihiel Offensive in Thiacourt, France, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France, both held in September. In coordination with World War I Centennial Commission (WWICC), the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), and U.S. Embassy (USEMB)-Paris, USEUCOM, commemorated the centennial of Armistice Day on Nov. 11 at Suresnes American Cemetery on the outskirts of Paris. Officiated by the President of the United States, the ceremony was attended by numerous other senior U.S. and international leaders including the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Not only did 2018 mark the WWI centennial, but it also recognized milestone years for European partner nations commemorating their own centennial events, to include the 100thanniversary of independence and unification celebrations in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. USEUCOM personnel and assets supported the celebrations with color guards, flyovers, musical ceremonial bands and troop formations.
U.S. European Command also participated in the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF, Fairford, UK, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, another example of USEUCOM’s commitment to and recognition of the enduring strength of the UK and U.S. relationship.
Capitalizing on building and maintaining strong relationships, USEUCOM also led three Chiefs of Defense conferencesfocusing on a wide-variety of issues mutually important for European allies and partners, including strategic goals and communication, a better understanding of the threats associated with countering VEOs, cyber defense and security, and the strategic importance of the north Atlantic, including the Arctic. The conferences complemented USEUCOM’s already strong commitment and ongoing dialogue with allies and partners about the need for greater attention to whole-of-government approaches to addressing threats across the theater.
Looking ahead: In 2019 USEUCOM will continue to enhance and strengthen partnerships, improve mission readiness, and counterglobal threats alongside allies and partners, while continuing to mark significant historical milestones, including the 75thanniversary of WWII.
2018 Year in Review video: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/647206/eucom-year-review .
Naval Forces Europe Year in Review: http://www.c6f.navy.mil/news/dynamic-security-naveur-navaf-blazes-trail-reflecting-past-preparing-future .