Transcript of Hearing on Theater Assessment and European Reassurance Initiative Progress
Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Military
Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
2 May 2017
Witnesses: Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti
MORAN: The subcommittee will come to order.
Good afternoon. We're joined today -- in fact it's an honor, a privilege to have with us General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, who is the commander of the United States European Command and the NATO supreme allied commander, Europe.
Our nation was founded based upon a set of complex relationships with European countries. The complexity of our relationship regarding military support was developed due in significant part to alliances with Allied Powers of World War II, leading to the first military headquarters in Europe in 1942. And in 1944, designating an official command structure with the then-Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower as supreme allied commander of Europe; a title now held by our witness today. We wish you were a Kansan, General.
Looking at the last 25 years, Europe has been a continent in transition. From the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the expansion of NATO and now the resurgence of Russia -- with its aggressive global power interests -- European Command has had to adapt to a new reality of instability and uncertainty, forcing us to examine our partnerships and relationships with the 51 countries within the command's area of responsibility.
The new reality must also take into account that despite the recent rise in turmoil and tension, we have reduced our footprint in Europe over the last 30 years. In 1989, the Army had 213,000 troops stationed at 858 sites in Europe. Today, the Army has 26,000 troops in about 80 sites.
Two years ago, DOD announced the results of its European infrastructure consolidation -- its study -- resulting in the closure or divestiture of more than 15 sites throughout the continent and a decrease of 2,000 U.S. personnel, both military and civilian.
Ironically, the result of -- as the results of this consolidation study were released about 11 months later, after "little green men," who bore close resemblance to Russian soldiers, began appearing in Crimea. This prompted the European Reassurance Initiative -- a plan to bring more U.S. troops back to Europe.
The first ERI was supposed to be a one-time, $1 billion response to Russian activities in Crimea and Ukraine. Last year, ERI requests more -- requests more than quadrupled to more than a total of $3.4 billion.
This is clearly now an enduring mission focused upon reassuring our allies, as well as deterring further Russian aggression. For example, I learned recently that the Army brigade combat team rotation is increasing, and I learned that the "Big Red One" soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, are deploying this fall in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Committing more U.S. troops will come at a price, and military construction will play an important role in optimizing our presence readiness in Central and Eastern Europe.
This committee anticipates the F.Y. 2018 budget will include an increased funding for ERI, including a significant increase in military construction funding. As such, it is important for the committee to better understand the progress made thus far in ERI, and the geopolitical climate in which we're operating.
The risks and challenges are -- that are prevalent throughout the European Command area of responsibility, from Russia positioning in the high north to violent extremism, transnational vulnerabilities in the south. If we return to the historic posture in Europe, how do we make certain our armed forces are sufficiently protected; that they do not become targets for terrorists?
Through our attention -- though our attention has been drawn to the east, particularly with the North Korean missile launches as recently as a few days ago, we must be ready to face what many describe as our nation's greatest threat, Russia.
General Scaparrotti -- your testimony today is timely, and we welcome you to our subcommittee. Today's hearing is an opportunity to examine your planning, priorities and investments, with people and with infrastructure, that you foresee today and in the years to come in Europe.
I recognize my friend and colleague from Hawaii -- the ranking member -- for his opening remarks.
SCHATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your holding this hearing to discuss the U.S. European Command and the European Reassurance Initiative for which this subcommittee appropriates military construction funding. I want to thank General Scaparrotti, and I look forward to your testimony.
Mr. Chairman -- I thank you for holding this hearing at an important time in EUCOM's history. And I'm glad to see that we'll have a chance to discuss EUCOM's theater and the ERI military construction funding in an open and in classified context.
The political and military environment in Europe has changed massively over the last several years. Prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014, EUCOM had experienced an extended period of peacetime, prompting the U.S. to draw down its permanently stationed forces, from around 300,000 during the Cold War to the current level of about 62,000.
In Warsaw, in June 2014, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Obama announced ERI to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's commitment to European security and territorial integrity. The ERI funding supports Operation Atlantic Resolve, which ensures EUCOM has a persistent, rotational presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
As the situation in Eastern Europe evolved over the past several years, the nature of the mission has changed as well, from an initial goal of stabilizing the crisis, reassuring allies and building capacity, ERI is now shifting to emphasize deterrence.
To support ERI, the committee has appropriated $288 million for major MILCON projects since 2015, and an additional $224 million for minor MILCON -- funding through Defense O&M. These numbers are substantial, and while EUCOM's mission is critical, so to is transparency in numbers and a planning process that ensures the tax payer dollars are spent in a manner that best supports the strategies.
And so it's with this in mind that the scale of our MILCON investments should send a clear signal to allies and adversaries alike that the U.S. has an enduring commitment to the stability and defense of Europe. We must, likewise, make a commitment to our military forces serving in Eastern Europe to support basic quality of life projects, and force protection projects, as we have done elsewhere in the world.
Thank you to General Scaparrotti, and thank you, Chairman, for holding this important hearing.
MORAN: Thank you -- thank you, Senator Schatz.
I just want to take a moment to recognize the 17 individuals that are with us this afternoon at our hearing. We're joined by 17 multinational students from the Army War College. They are here as part of the Carlisle Scholars Program. And I want to take a moment to thank them for their service and to welcome them to our -- to our hearing. You all might stand.
MORAN: Thank you all very much.
General Scaparrotti, we now draw attention to you, and we welcome your testimony.
SCAPARROTTI: Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Schatz and distinguished members of the committee, I'm honored to testify today as the commander of the United States European Command.
I'd like to thank the committee for passing the F.Y. '17 MILCON bill last September, providing EUCOM with stable, predictable and on- time funding. The projects go a long way to support posturing EUCOM to meet our operational requirements.
On behalf of over 60,000 permanently assigned service members, as well as civilians, contractors and their families, who serve and represent our nation in Europe, we appreciate your support.
The European theater remains critical to our national interests. The NATO Alliance gives us a unique advantage over our adversaries -- a united, capable warfighting alliance resolved in its purpose and strengthened by shared values that have been forged in battle.
EUCOM's relationship with NATO and with our European partners provides the United States with a network of willing nations, who support global operations and secure the international rules-based order.
Our security architecture protects almost one billion people, and safeguards transatlantic trade, which now constitutes almost half the world's GDP. However, this security architecture is being tested. And today, we face the most dynamic European strategic environment in recent history. Political volatility and economic uncertainty are compounded by threats to our security system; they're transregional, multi-domain and multifunctional.
In the east, a resurgent Russia has returned from partner to antagonist as it seeks to undermine the western-led international order and reassert itself as a global power. Countries along Russia's periphery, including Ukraine and Georgia, struggle against Moscow's malign activities and military actions.
In the southeast, strategic drivers of instability converge on key allies, especially Turkey, which has to simultaneously manage Russia, terrorist and refugee flows.
In the south, violent extremist and transnational criminal elements spawn terror and corruption from North Africa to the Middle East, while refugees flee to Europe in search of security and opportunity.
And in the High North, Russia's reasserting its military presence and positioning itself for strategic advantage in the Arctic.
In response to these challenges, EUCOM has shifted its focus from security cooperation and engagement to deterrence and defense. Accordingly, we are adjusting our plans, our posture, our readiness, so we remain relevant to the threats we face. In short, we are returning to our historic role as a warfighting command.
EUCOM's transition would not be possible without Congressional appropriations in support of the European Reassurance Initiative. Over the past 12 months, EUCOM has made clear progress with an enhanced forward presence, conflicts exercises and training, increased pre-positioning of equipment and supplies and partner capacity building throughout Europe.
EUCOM's military construction program continues to build on ongoing posture initiatives, infrastructure recapitalization and the expansion of oppositional infrastructure.
Thanks to Congressional support, EUCOM has proceeded with the recapitalization of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center replacement project and the Joint Intelligence Analysis Center, which I continue to believe is operationally imperative that EUCOM, AFRICOM and NIFC -- that's the NATO facility -- those intelligence organizations remain co-located and that this project move forward as planned.
With your continued support, I remain confident that our ability to affect this return to warfighting focus -- I remain confident in our ability to affect this return to warfighting focus -- but there is much work to do. Our -- our force posture needs to increase to provide credible deterrence to Russian aggression, and we must have infrastructure to support this increased posture.
Significant investments are needed to provide capacity for operations' exercises, training, reception staging and pre-positioned assets. The funds provided through ERI have jumpstarted infrastructure construction, but we must continue to invest in projects required to provide a ready and capable force presence. Accordingly, EUCOM is working with the services in the Office of Secretary of Defense to prepare budget submissions for F.Y. '18.
Let me conclude by again thanking this committee's members and the staff for their continue appropriations in support of EUCOM. Your support, that of other senior leaders and, above all, the support of our public at home and across Europe, are vital to ensuring that we have a ready and a relevant force.
This remains a pivotal time for EUCOM as we transition to meet the demands of a dynamic security environment. And I remain confident that through the strength of our alliances and partnerships, and with the professionalism of our service members, we will adapt and ensure that Europe remains whole, free and at peace.
Chairman, thank you. And I look forward to your questions.
MORAN: General, thank you -- General, thank you very much. I'm going to turn first to the senator from Alaska, who is on a schedule today that we want to be accommodating.
So the senator from Alaska is recognized.
MURKOWSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for allowing me to kind of skip the line. And I'm sorry that I won't be able to be part of the -- the second half of this briefing, but I do appreciate the opportunity to have you before the committee here, General Scaparrotti, and just thank you for your leadership.
You've mentioned the High North, and that is an area that I pay of close particular attention and -- and concern too. You mentioned Russia positioning itself to gain strategic advantage, not only with the -- with the sea lanes that are becoming opening, but we're seeing stepped up activity.
I think it's fair to say that -- that all Alaskans are -- are paying particularly close attention to Russia. It was just a few weeks ago that for four days in a row, we were greeted with aircraft that were spotted off the coast of Alaska, and -- well, that used to be a common site; we haven't really since that since -- since 2015. So people will look up, they wonder what the scramble is all about, and they really wonder what is going on.
A senior defense official was quoted as saying that this was quote, "not a concern," and attributed the uptick to a recent lack of available Russian aircraft and the need to boost training. So I want to ask you about that, whether you agree with that assessment, but also want to have you speak to the specifics that we are seeing in -- in Russia and this Arctic expansion.
It was highlighted in the news this weekend -- I don't know if you saw the Sunday night -- the NBC Nightly News report on the 80th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade -- this is the Russian Arctic brigade that's now stationed along the Finnish border.
And if Chairman and -- and Ranking Member -- it might be -- it's a two-minute clip, but it is -- it's pretty -- pretty substantive in terms of showing what the Russians are doing in their Arctic training and -- and recognizing that they're training in temperatures that are tough; it's 40 degrees below zero.
They're using everything, from tanks to military hardware, snow machines, even reindeer and dog sleds, but it -- it's -- it's not the training that's going on. It's what is happening with the opening of some pretty impressive new bases. Not just dusting off the Cold War- era, Arctic bases.
They recently unveiled the 14,000 square-foot Arctic Shamrock, which is a permanent Arctic base along the 80th parallel, as well as its having four new bases planned.
So folks in Alaska are wondering what's going on. They hear senior defense officials say, "Don't be too worried here." How -- how do -- how do you offer the assurance to -- to Alaskans, I guess, or to all Americans about what we're seeing in -- in Russia right now? What does this year's ERI do to -- to basically keep Russia on its side of the border?
So if you can speak to the activities in the High North, I'd greatly appreciate it.
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, thank you. I think you accurately described what we see. Russia, as it has invested in its forces over the last five to six years, is doing so in a very broad manner. And so it affects their -- you know -- their air, maritime, ground forces, their coastal-defense forces, their radar systems for air defenses, et cetera. So we see it across the board, and we've now seen them begin to make those improvements in the High North or in the Arctic as well.
As you noted, the Northern Sea Route, one of the routes there is given the warning as most likely -- it's the one that is opened first, et cetera, and it does travel closest to their border. As they put in -- in bases, they're refurbishing old ones; they're putting in some new ones. They're placing forces, as you noted. They're placing some air-defense and missile systems in as well.
Our concern is -- is that rather than the Arctic being a place that is for commerce, stable, freedom of maneuver -- in accordance with our international laws is adhered to that -- that they could position themselves in a place to control the Arctic and that sea lane. And so that's what we're watching very closely.
I would tell you that the flights are a function in the sense of their growing capabilities. They're refurbishment of the air force, their long-range bombers that you were referred to, but they're also starting to demonstrate this capability. That's -- that's what they're doing. They're demonstrating their capabilities. They do so on the other side of the Arctic into Europe as well.
ERI is the very basis of our response to Russian aggression, malign influence and also their modernization. The -- the ERI funds provide us the capability, for instance, in early warning systems. It provides us capabilities in ISR intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, specifically with respect to anti-submarine warfare, which is a very important component of their High North -- their northern fleet is in that area in the Arctic.
And so all of those things go into that. When we go into the classified session, I can go into a good deal more detail about what they're doing in that and how we can influence that.
But, as you said, I remain concerned. And it's a point that I bring out, because of our need to continue what we're doing in ERI, but broader than that we also need to continue our modernization so that we remain dominant in the domains that -- that provide all of our citizens and Europeans reassurance that we can deter this threat and protect the United States.
MURKOWSKI: Well, I appreciate that. And I -- I will look forward to an opportunity to -- to perhaps visit more directly with you about some of these specifics.
I -- I am going to be taking a group of -- of members at the end of this month to Norway, where we'll have an opportunity to visit the Marines at the Joint Arctic Training there at Vaernes.
And I know that we have -- we have various partnerships in other places with other Arctic nations like -- like Canada for things like search and rescue. But do we have any other military partnerships or opportunities like this, and do you see us doing more of -- of what we're seeing right now with the Marines in -- in -- in Norway and kind of building that -- building that capacity out?
SCAPARROTTI: We have a good partnership obviously with Norway. We've begun to work in a -- in a more routine basis, particularly with our Marines now, but also with other services -- air and naval -- as well as Sweden and Finland in the north. And -- and we will continue those operations with them -- the training into practicing of our operability, et cetera.
They have a very good understanding of Russia's posture, because of their position and their long relationship with them, and that's very helpful to us as well in understanding deterrence, understanding a proper posture and being able to give that right.
MURKOWSKI: Sir, I appreciate it. And again, I look forward to talking with you about these and -- and other aspects. Thank you.
MORAN: Senator Schatz?
SCHATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Scaparrotti, I wanted to talk to you about the need for predictability in the context of ERI.
You're -- you're here in an unusual week where we're passing a big bipartisan bill. And I know we did the MILCON piece last year, which was great, but obviously there are implications in terms of rotational forces and other needs that you have at EUCOM that are going to be met through this omnibus.
But I -- so I wonder if you might not just briefly describe what this does for ERI, and maybe recount the private conversation we had about the extents of which our friends and allies alike are actually watching twists and turns in the legislative process.
SCAPARROTTI: Now Senator, thank you. I just reiterate -- as I said in my opening that, you know, a predictable, stable budget and funding is -- is very important to us, because it allows us to plan and do it efficiently. That's particularly important when it comes to the posture of troops like we're trying to -- you know, we're trying to reposture in Europe a bit. Long-term planning helps that.
It helps with our modernization, because we can actually lay out a plan for that modernization to include -- to ensure that at the -- at the end of a period of time, we have a force that's relevant to the threats that we see.
Finally, your note, I have noted that as the supreme allied commander in Europe and -- and working closely with our allies there, I can assure you that our partners and our allies pay close attention to our budgeting, because they understand that it -- what is year-on- year -- what is done only at a year time? So there question then is, is it --"Are you sure that this that is funded on a yearly basis, in fact, going to be funded over the next couple of years or through fruition with our plans?"
And so it's hopeful in that respect too. It's an assurance to our allies that -- that what we've begun we're going to finish, in terms of posture exercises, facilities, et cetera.
SCHATZ: Can you talk to me about long-term or even medium-range planning when it comes to both major MILCON and minor MILCON? And without getting into what is and isn't in -- in a FYDP -- I understand, sir, that technical and legal discussion -- I just want to hear from you: What is our planning time frame? And how should we be thinking about your planning time frame when we think about funding?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, we actually in EUCOM, we -- we have a -- an infrastructure plan that we developed as part of the staff in conjunction with OSD. It looks out beyond five years. I think it's one of the basic documents that I -- in fact, I want it to be a living document to the extent that when a new staff member comes in, or another commander into the command, they should read that as one of the base documents so they know what our vision is for the posture, the footprint and the facilities that we need in Europe.
Coupled with that is a plan for posture. We have -- we -- we have that on a four-year plan as to where we think we need to go with the appropriate force in EUCOM. Those are all tied obviously to MILCON in -- in the long term.
I think it's just important that we have a vision that's longer term so that we can plan and budget in that respect, and do it efficiently.
SCHATZ: And where does ERI sit in -- in those various processes?
SCAPARROTTI: ERI today, as you know, is -- is funded yearly. It's OCO; it's not in the base. And as a result of that, you could look shorter term, if you're not careful.
Now, what I want to assure the committee is -- is we looked at the -- we looked at the criteria that Congress budgeted ERI for -- its purpose -- we have those categories. And then we also go through a process within the components in Europe against those categories over the FYDP.
So we're not looking at just next year; we're looking at where we want to be at the end of the FYDP. And we actually help cost that out. So that's...
SCHATZ: But that's where -- it sounds like that's OK on your side, but to the extent that it's not on the -- in the FYDP formally becomes a problem on our side, right?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, it would be helpful for us all not to ...
SCAPARROTTI: ... not to have to come back into that next year with uncertainty.
SCHATZ: Right. And it -- it -- it seems to me that to the extent that this is about reassurance that it would be reassuring for our allies to -- to see that we're willing to do long-term investments that are going to get amortized over the period during which we're going to be engaged in ERI, which presumably is certainly longer than the one-year that OCO allows us to do.
One -- one final question, and then -- then maybe I'll take a -- a brief second round, you know, when ERI was rolled out in 2014, it was sort of in response to an emerging situation. And so the funding needs and the priorities were, you know, mission; runways, building control towers, ammo storage.
We're obviously not into basing in -- in -- in those parts of Eastern Europe, but there is at least a more semi-permanent presence that we have to think about. And so I'm wondering, what is that next tier, especially as it relates to quality of life? Because I've heard -- now anecdotally -- from people who have served in ERI that -- different service members -- that there are quality of life constraints that make it, you know, one of the tougher places to serve.
And obviously, we have to do whatever is mission critical, but over time, as you know, the quality of life stuff is -- is mission critical too. So I'm wondering if you could speak to how you're working that into the plan?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, part of ERI is the facilities that we need to appropriately station particularly mechanized forces, who are a combat aviation brigade, et cetera. So as you look at some of the MILCON here, it's actually improving those facilities.
I would say also that -- particularly taking care of people, our allies have been quite good about their investment, not only in facilities to help those units, but facilities like barracks for our troops; the kinds of support that they might find in a -- in a -- in a normal base. So we're -- we're looking to them as well.
I would say that particularly in the east with the -- with the ERI and our rotational forces there, I don't see a need for the kind of support that we typically give in one of our bases in Western Europe. But we're working to improve it so that our forces there are well taken care of, but they also can focus on the mission that they have at hand. And we'll continue to work with that in mind.
SCHATZ: Thank you.
MORAN: Thank you, Senator.
General, in 2014, when this initiative regarding reassuring our allies in Europe came into existence, there was a certain climate that pre-existed that that caused us to think this was a necessary step for the United States to pursue. How would you describe the change in climate from that point in time to today?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I -- personally, I think that that the recognition in Europe -- in particular that Russia is intent on its stated goals of -- of establishing itself as a global power: that it will press on the international norms -- continue to press that after breaking international laws with respect to Ukraine, for instance; that it is intent in its modernization and the use of its military to set facts on the ground beforehand. I think that's become even more apparent since 2014, and we continue to see that drum beat.
And I think for the most part in Europe, they understand that, and they're committed to deterrence of Russia as well. It's greater, obviously, in the east, where they face them directly, than perhaps in the south or west.
But the alliance has been strong, and I think our partners are as well in its recognition. Warsaw made that commitment, you know, or the -- the alliance did at Warsaw, and I think it was quite -- quite clear.
MORAN: And what's changed in regard to Russia's efforts? Has there been a consequence of our reassurance efforts in -- in a response from Russia in how we would've expected them to behave or how they're changing their behavior?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think if you look at their -- their stated response, they recognize what we're doing. I think they are concerned about the changes that we have made in the United States in terms of the rotational forces that we've now put in; what NATO has done with enhanced forward presence. It has their attention.
I think their response is one to say that they are deterred by that. They have recognized it. They have said publicly that they're making adjustments in their western border, and in the Baltic and Black Sea as a result of that.
So I think that's -- that's the response that I look for. I wish we had a crystal ball; we could see clearly the cognitive impact on the regime in Russia. But I can't say that clearly at this point.
MORAN: What -- what more needs to be done to reassure our allies and to deter Russian aggression on a -- I don't know that there's a solid answer to this question, but I'm interested in your thought process. How do we know we're in the position that we need to be -- that our allies feel reassured -- and those that we oppose for their actions feel constrained?
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, that's -- that's really the -- the tough question. I mean we look at it -- we're going -- we're in a deterrence posture now and determining how we assess the effectiveness of that deterrence is very difficult.
Part of it's because it's a cognitive effect you're trying to have more so than a posture effect. And so it's more difficult. And I can talk about it more in a classified, but -- but I think that what we need to do is we need to stay strong with our allies. We need to ensure with our country and as much as we can with them that we approach this from a whole of government approach.
The -- the Russians see this as a whole of society approach. They don't -- they don't see a differentiation between what they do in the military with respect to their actions; they include diplomatic, economic leverage, et cetera. I think our response has to recognize that as well.
And then we need to also include our -- improve our posture, because we need to have a strong front. That's what Russia respects is strength.
MORAN: When -- when we visited in Europe with you earlier this year, we had been to -- to France and Germany, both concerned about intrusion by Russia into their elections. Any -- any update? Any sense of what's going on in that regard?
SCAPARROTTI: They both continue to be very concerned about it. France in particular. I think publicly, you saw that France believes they did have some influence, and direct influence, by Russia in terms of who they preferred to see elected.
You know there was a -- there was a relationship there as well in terms of, you know, what we had learned and our ability to help them posture themselves to protect against that. And Germany shares the same -- the same concerns.
And there's a number of other elections between now and fall in Europe where, you know, Russia's known to have been directly involved with parties that they can influence or politicians as well.
MORAN: What's the relationship between -- let me -- let me tell it this way -- we're going to spend some money on infrastructure. This committee has been supportive of that effort, and I assume will continue to do so. What do we expect or what contribution occurs from -- what do we pay for ourselves? What does -- what's NATO responsible for? What are other allies responsible for?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think we work together on -- on -- on sorting out exactly what you do. But I think a quick way to look at this is we are willing to put infrastructure and some funding into some of their facilities -- their airfields, their ports, their storage facilities and some of those things -- in order to help us early on with this step. But we expect them to put in funds that help us with that as well, as well as support of our troops.
The second thing is -- is that we need -- we need to be able to move with some agility, both us and our European partners. And so within each of those countries, I -- I would expect that they -- that they invest in their infrastructure, in their rail, in those fuel capacity -- fuel -- fuel stores -- and those kinds of things that we need in order to be able to move at speed in Europe.
In the Cold War, we had a very good laydown of that. The nations there had, you know, responsibilities in turn to their nations so we could move through countries. That's deteriorated or, let's say, it's declined since -- since the Cold War.
And we're now in a process with the other nations of looking at what we need to do to have the right structure in order to provide for our agility in theater. And they're taking that on as well.
MORAN: Let me ask one more question, and then we'll go to Senator Schatz, and we'll have another round. Medical care and treatment for our service men and women, what's the status in Europe? What -- what role does it play globally in our military efforts? What do you see is the future needs?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, first of all, you know, we -- one of our lines of effort in Europe is -- is enable global operations. Because of our location, and particularly in the medical facilities, we -- we serve as not only EUCOM and the service members there, but we -- we often bring our wounded and those ill from Central Command, from AFRICOM, into our theater too.
So Landstuhl is a critical facility, but it was built in the 1950s. And as you know, with the help of this committee, we've been appropriated for most of the funding for the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Military Hospital that -- that's being -- that's already started construction.
And we -- we would ask you for the continued funding of that to complete that project in about '20, '21 or '22. It's critical, not only to EUCOM and the health of our families and our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines there, but it's critical I think for a movement and our posture medically in other theaters also.
MORAN: General, thank you. Senator Schatz?
SCHATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to follow up on your view of the Russians taking a whole of government approach to -- to exercising power. And I specifically wanted to ask you about the extents in which we are using the whole of government as a country in the European context. We don't have an assistant secretary for Europe and European Affairs; I understand we have an acting in that position. Most ambassadorships are not even nominated, let alone confirmed.
And without forcing you into a political conversation, I would just like you to speak to the utility of working with our State Department and other counterparts in making sure that -- in terms of alliance management, and the diplomacy and politics that goes with your job that you have the full complement that you need.
SCAPARROTTI: Well, you know, I approach -- as I said before -- the importance of whole of government. I approach what we do in Europe from that viewpoint.
I have a -- I have a POLAD (ph) who is a -- it's an ambassador. She's very experienced -- Ambassador Elliott. We treat her essentially as a deputy in order to harness the other agencies of government -- in particularly diplomacy -- to have that coordination with our embassies and make sure it's very tight.
And so when we approach whether it's deterring Russia or it's countering transnational threats, all of those things rely on, first, good diplomacy, economic information, instruments of power, in order to work. And I think, frankly, while the military provides some muscle toward diplomacy, we always want diplomacy to take a lead. And the intent is that we prevent war, and you don't have to use the military instrument of power.
So I think it's very important that we continue to approach -- to approach, you know, our challenges in Europe in the same manner.
SCHATZ: Is it fair to say that you're looking forward to working the newly confirmed diplomats as soon as they are nominated and confirmed?
SCAPARROTTI: That's true.
SCHATZ: Thank you. I wanted to ask you to sort of just make the best case you could for an additional BCT in Europe. I know that's being knocked around, and would just like you to make the case for it.
SCAPARROTTI: Well, you know, today I have two BCTs -- one's an airborne infantry brigade combat team -- one's a cavalry element -- 22 (ph). And the -- the challenges that we have -- Russia's posture is not a light force; it's a heavy force. And so in order to have the posture that is both credible and of the right composition, then we need more armored forces.
I have one rotational brigade today. I think, frankly, I need to increase that over time to make sure that we do have a force of enough size that enables us to deter Russia and is a good posture for the follow-on forces should we have a crisis.
The second thing I'd mention, Senator, is -- is that what comes beyond that is the enablers. Things like engineers, you know, a fire's brigade, an aviation brigade -- those enablers that help those -- those armored units to fight in the way that we do effectively.
SCHATZ: Thank you. A last question on the European infrastructure consolidation, can you just give us a status report? I understand none of the facilities have been turned back, but I also am reading reports that indicate that there's a reconsideration, at least of portions of EIC? So could you give us a status report please?
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, yes. By my count, since '13 when this began, we've got about 57 sites. And as you know, a site can be a very small thing or it can be somewhat large, but 57 that we've -- we've returned to -- to host nations. We've got 15 remaining today that have not been turned over.
The decisions to turn those over remain constant. That's the work -- that's what we're moving toward. I understand the services are looking at a couple of those sites potentially to reconsider. That's a service issue.
I tell you, personally, that we in -- we in EUCOM always consider the environment, how it changes and what we need to support our posture. So I too think there's -- there's probably a couple that might be worth reconsideration, but that's not been done, and that's -- and it's -- it's actually a service function for the most part.
SCHATZ: And that decision is at the office of the secretary?
SCAPARROTTI: I don't know that for sure. I would have to go -- the actual decision itself, it -- it's certainly, you know, above my level -- is secretary or beyond.
SCHATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MORAN: General, this subcommittee has been supportive of the Joint Intelligence Analysis Center at RAF Croughton. I think that decision was made before you arrived in your current position. There has been some suggestion that it should be built at Lajes Field.
Let me ask you to explain to us, if you believe it to be true, why Croughton is the right place to relocate the existing facility? We'd like to hear what you have to say.
SCAPARROTTI: As you said, the decision was made beforehand, but when I took over, I had assembled our staff. I've -- I've -- I've been there. I've visited the NIFC and our -- our -- our jack that's apart of the JIAC.
And I took a look at the other available bases. And I -- and I think that -- that Croughton is the right place. I think it's correct to have those facilities -- the different facilities; they're six different entities there co-located.
What we get here is we get real synergy out of EUCOM, AFRICOM, the NATO, the DIA support apparatus, as well as BICES, which is an intelligence exchange communications system. Those are the six kind of pieces that make apart of -- that make this -- we get synergy out of them being in one place.
Number two, the challenge today is to make sure we can actually exchange information at the -- at -- at a relevant speed. And today, information moves very quickly, as you know. When you co-locate those, they have an opportunity then to share intel appropriately and very quickly, as well as analyze and discuss issues. This is -- this is powerful. And it's particularly important between NATO and the U.S.
The other thing I would mention, Senator, is that -- that for the NATO intelligence center that supports me and -- and Supreme Headquarters Allied Power in Europe under NATO, the framework nation for that intelligence facility is the United States.
So what we provide in one site as an U.S. intelligence facility, that support apparatus supports NATO. If it were to be someplace else, we will also have to have the people and the resources at that other place duplicated to support that facility, because we have that commitment within NATO.
Secondly, it's -- all 28 members have to agree on a location, et cetera, which they have done. That within NATO is an important factor here, I think.
So I think for several reasons it's actually in a very good facility. As we -- when we talk in the closed session, I can be in a little more detail on this, but I do think we have it right.
MORAN: Let me just ask a little bit further, do -- do -- in your analysis, is there any circumstances -- either as a matter of being cost effective or of military value -- that that facility should be located at Lajes Field in Portugal?
SCAPARROTTI: No, I don't think so. Thank you.
MORAN: The enhanced forward presence units are all located currently in the Baltic and Poland -- in the Baltics and Poland. Do you think any additional units need to be stationed in the southern flank of NATO, Romania or Bulgaria?
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, today, I think given the posture that we have, we're in -- in fairly good shape. I think I'll look at that as time goes on here through the summer and into the fall.
So in Romania and Bulgaria, on the NATO side, we have something similar to enhanced forward presence in the Baltics, and it's called tailored forward presence. Romania, Bulgaria and other nations that have chosen to take part in that have formed a multinational brigade that operates in those two countries, exercises together and provides deterrence in that area. It extends also to our maritime forces in NATO, et cetera.
Secondly, we rotate forces through there almost routinely. Marines, for instance. And then also we have one of MEF battalions out of our rotational armored brigade down there now. And we'll probably be in that part -- you know, we'll probably have an unit down there out of that a good deal of the year.
So I think with that capability, we -- we're beginning to get the posture right in the southeast as well as up in the Baltics and Poland.
MORAN: General, we've talked mostly about the -- Russia. Tell me about terrorists and terrorism. What -- what role and what stance is the United States and NATO required to -- to necessarily to combat terrorism?
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, I think, first of all, the idea -- and you -- you probably heard this before -- that it takes a network to defeat a network.
Our -- the terrorists -- ISIS and other organizations, as you know, are reaching out globally. They have cells and operations in other countries with it -- with their headquarters, ISIS, centered in -- in Syria and Iraq at -- at what they call their "caliphate."
And I believe our role in EUCOM is to help strengthen that network. And so we've done that. We have a -- we have a counter- transnational threats cell that has connected with both E.U. and NATO to help reinforce their network. In other words, connect with those countries and reinforce that primarily to exchange information, exchange analysis intelligence and to help each other build our partner capacity in counterterrorism.
Those are the steps that we've taken. NATO is -- is taking a part in that as well. And I think that's a most effective way for us to begin to counter this terrorist threat from a military perspective.
MORAN: Let me ask the -- the European Reassurance Initiative, is there a component to -- in addition to combating the aggressive nature of Russia, is that -- those actions that we take in that regard also have a consequence in fighting terrorism?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think they do from -- from demonstrating strength. They do in the sense that, you know, our -- our operational and intelligence assets, the sharing of in other domains, for instance, in cyber or information. You know those relationships that you build -- for one, deterring Russia -- play immediately into the other things that you do. So you know, building relationships capacity works hand in glove in that respect.
MORAN: How are we doing -- this will be my final question and then we'll turn over to Senator Murphy and Senator Boozman, and then we'll move to our classified setting.
What steps are we taking -- let me -- assure me that we're taking the necessary steps and describe those that you can to protect our service men and women -- their families -- from terrorist activities in Europe.
SCAPARROTTI: We, and I say we -- it's not EUCOM -- it's our entire intelligence community -- pay very close attention to the -- to the intelligence that we get, to the intelligence that our -- that our partners can provide for us.
We have a working group that's established that's -- that is not just EUCOM. It is in conjunction with our intelligence community that -- that on a very routine basis looks at this. If we see any -- any indicator that there may be an increased threat or certainly one that has, you know, timing, location activity attached to it, then we bring that working group together and it comes to my attention.
We've had to exercise that in Europe, you know, more often than I would care to talk about. And to this extent, I think we've done a good job.
Now, based on that, we also put out warnings or we take steps with raising security at our bases throughout Europe or in specific places. We give warnings to -- to both our service members and our families, and sometimes we limit their travel in areas when we need to if at a given period of time we think there's a threat that would cause us to have that much concern. And that's the way we work it on a daily basis.
MORAN: I wish you well in that regard. Senator Murphy?
MURPHY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, General, for being with us. Sorry I missed the beginning of the testimony.
I wanted to build upon, I think, the last question that Senator Schatz asked regarding the partnership between the work that you do and the work that the State Department does.
You know, I -- I've worried from the beginning that a European Reassurance Initiative anchored almost wholly in military support misunderstands the nature of the Russian threat and maybe also misunderstand their intentions inside of Ukraine.
I -- I don't think that Russia wants to militarily own Ukraine; I think they want to create confusion and clouded title around a significant enough portion of the country to ultimately set forth the chain of political events inside Kiev that reinstalls leadership that's friendly to Moscow again so it can be a client state in the way it looked under the Yanukovych regime.
And so -- well, the line may move a little to the left and a little to the right, ultimately they're trying to -- to create enough chaos in Kiev and throughout the rest of the country that a decision is made is to just give up and ultimately come to the conclusion that Ukraine is better off being friends with Russia and giving them whatever they need in order to get there.
And so to me, you know, that speaks to the other elements of a -- of a real comprehensive European Reassurance Initiative, which would partner together I think the very necessary military components with real anti-corruption resources.
We've done great work in Kiev to give them a little bit of money to make the police force more responsible to the needs of the people; it's been successful, but it's a tiny amount of money. Real energy independence resources. I know you're talking with the State Department all the time about the need to, you know, bring real money to the table to help these countries become energy independent.
Right now, we can give them advice, but we really can't put any money on the table. We can give them money to partner with us on military exercises, but we can't put money on the table to help them build an interconnection to reverse-flow gas.
Real economic assistance and -- and then -- as we've talked a lot about in Congress -- real efforts to build up objective media to fight back against the Russian propaganda, which is real and present throughout, you know, all of the eastern edge of the continent.
So I wanted to maybe put a little flesh on the bone and -- and ask you -- I know you said you always want to lead with diplomacy first, but some of these things aren't real -- they're not diplomacy in the sense that it's just two sides talking to each other right there. Real hard tools that State and USAID have to deploy side by side with you that change the battle space.
And so, I -- I maybe wanted to ask you to drill down a little bit more specifically on some of the hard tools that you work with State that ultimately can be deposited in a place like Ukraine.
SCAPARROTTI: Well, first of all, I -- I would agree with you and say that, you know, we -- in -- in every country that we're active in EUCOM, we're nested under the -- under the -- the embassy and the ambassador, and their -- their approach with the other agencies in our government.
And so whether it's information, it's not just the military support information apparatus that we can -- we can help with. It's actually, first and foremost, supporting the ambassador and the State Department's information campaigns there. Supporting their support for USAID, or treasury, or others that are working.
I think it's just very important that we are integrated. And so with our defense attache -- our offices in each one of the embassies -- that's what we -- we work to do is make sure we understand their program first, and then make sure we're not doing anything that's not fully integrated with that or seems to work counter in it.
One of the areas that you've got to be careful in is information, because we have some capacity, and we've got to make sure we're nested with their information campaign. So what we do is as a government and what we say is -- is -- has -- has integrity.
MURPHY: Back to my original premise on Russia's intentions in Ukraine, if -- if -- if you believe their intention is ultimately to march that separatists army into the capitol, then it makes sense to approach this from a military-first standpoint.
If you believe that their intention is to essentially sit where they are, long enough so that they politically and economically unwind the country, then you would -- you'd certainly provide enough military support to just make sure you're not wrong. But your approach wouldn't be military; your approach would be -- would -- would start with economic and political support to keep them alive long enough so that the Russians say, "I guess we're not going to -- we're not going to win this one inside of Kiev."
Is my assessment wrong in terms of what Russia's intentions there?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think that if you look at particularly their doctrine as it's changed, I think Russia looks at this what we call, "competition below the level of conflict." I think they see that as a -- as a part of their entire range of conflict.
And -- and their objective is if they can -- if they can achieve what they want -- the objectives in Ukraine -- without ever using anything more in the military, but doing it through economic intimidation, political provocation and those other means, like you described, then -- then that is what they would much prefer to do. And that's -- that's essentially what we see them working on in their disinformation campaigns, et cetera.
I would just point out as well that both the embassy and us have advisers there with -- in the Ukrainian government working on reform, helping them with planning and the things that they have to do to shift to a democratic government, established in our values, that has control of the military, that works, you know, under the values of rule of law, et cetera.
And so that's part of that effort. And of course, we're a part of that group that does that and supports those advisers.
MURPHY: I have to say, Mr. Chairman, this -- this partnership, which worked, I think, very well over the course of the last, you know, five years, between EUCOM and -- and Toria Nuland and her staff at the assistant secretary level. It's hard to do without an assistant secretary for Europe.
So -- and I know we are united in our desire to ultimately get leadership at State that will help partner with the Regional Command. But every day that goes by without an assistant secretary, that partnership is made harder.
So, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MORAN: Senator from Arkansas, Senator Boozman. Senator Boozman, we recognized a moment ago students of yours. I understand you were a guest lecturer today for scholars in our -- in our audience.
BOOZMAN: Now, we're looking forward to them coming very much. So it's great to have you all here.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and -- and Senator from Hawaii, for holding this very, very important hearing. And, General, thank you for taking the time. I know you're a busy guy, but this is so such -- so -- so very important -- such an important topic.
We really are living in an unprecedented, dynamic time right now when it comes to the global security environment. And this is particularly true in your area of responsibility.
Tell me a little bit -- in your -- in your testimony, you discussed the likelihood of miscalculation and misunderstanding with Moscow. Can you talk a little bit about that, further highlighting some of the steps you -- steps you and your team are taking to mitigate the threat? And how we -- are we mitigating this threat among our NATO allies?
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, first of all, where I'm concerned about that is in places where we have forces in close proximity to the Russians. So in the Black Sea, the Baltic, our maritime forces, in the air along the borders, in the eastern Med, where we know they have presence.
And it's -- it's basically -- you know, we -- we operate in international waters. As we should, we expect them to follow international norms as well. So we continue to do that.
At times, particularly in the Baltic or in the Black Sea, you -- you've seen where they've -- they've have some maneuvers with aircraft or their ships that we deem to be dangerous.
So, you know, we -- we rely on our -- on our leaders at a lower level to take the steps that they need to take at a tactical level to ensure that we're, one, not provocative, and that we protect our forces as well.
But we're strong. We're going to -- we're going to fly and sail where we should and where we need to in -- in international waters and with international norms. And so that's the way I approach it.
And I think our -- our commanders have done a very good job. Their judgment has been excellent, and -- and sometimes they've been in, you know, some -- some tight spots with Russian forces in close proximity.
Last part is -- is we make sure that, if we do exercises in training, we're transparent. We -- we tell the Russians if we're doing exercises in the east or in the waters that they're -- they're nearby. We let them know that so there's no misunderstanding of what we're doing. We would ask them to do the same.
BOOZMAN: And our -- our NATO allies that perhaps sometimes don't have the experience and the -- you know, in dealing with these kinds of things. How do we mitigate that?
SCAPARROTTI: You know, we work very closely with them and, you know, within NATO in particular. We're -- our interoperability is -- is improving. We're -- we're very used to working with most of those forces. And so even on the eastern front, our work with the Baltics, and with Poland in particular, is -- is very close. We obviously do normal planning with them. We discuss these issues.
It's not that I'm not concerned about it, but I think we've got a good relationship where we can actually ensure that our allies, as well of us -- as well as our forces are paying close attention to that.
BOOZMAN: Very good. General, can you talk a little bit -- share your thoughts on the relationship between Russia and China, particularly with Putin's possible visit to Beijing later this month for the so-called, "One Belt, One Road" Summit?
Obviously, the implications of this partnership are significant and many. How do you see this relationship playing out, and what implications do you see for EUCOM and NATO?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, you know, I -- I think it's a bit worrisome in terms of the -- the relationship, if it were -- were to become very close, but I think there's natural tensions there between Russia and China as well. And -- and so, you know, because of that, I think we just need to keep a close -- close watch on it.
In -- in some respects, they both are pushing against -- you know these international norms that I talked about -- you know, pushing against the security -- international security structure that's rules- based that has really kept the peace globally -- you know, since the end of World War II. And so, from that respect, they have a similar approach.
BOOZMAN: Very good.
One other thing, when you combine your area of responsibility with AFRICOM's, that really is a massive and pretty dynamic geographic area. I think probably 100 countries are involved between, you know, the two theaters.
Can you talk about the impact of the resurgence of Russia these past few years on your service components? And does the consolidation of service components between EUCOM and AFRICOM -- AFRICOM help or hinder the coordination? And can you speak to a strain or challenges on your service components in meeting the current demands?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, first of all, the -- you know, the resurgent Russia has caused us, as I said earlier, to change our posture. It changes the operations that they do -- the components do. It changes their readiness that they have to have on a daily basis. Five or six years ago, we weren't concerned about being ready today.
SCAPARROTTI: We are now. And so that's picked up their optempo. They also -- as you know, my components are also components of AFRICOM and General Waldhauser. The cooperation is very tight. It's very good, between the staffs.
But it is -- as you can imagine, that one-component commander has two different bosses. Most of the time, we work this out pretty well. There has been several times in the past year where a component's requirement to assist AFRICOM, for instance, has, I thought, raised a level of risk that we take in EUCOM with our responsibilities.
And when that happens, then we have a discussion with the chairman or the secretary, if necessary, so that -- and I think that's the important thing so we all understand the risk that is involved if there is a demand that's beyond the force structure that I have in EUCOM or AFRICOM has to -- to service both theaters simultaneously.
BOOZMAN: Thank you, General. We do appreciate you -- appreciate all you represent.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MORAN: Thank you, Senator Boozman.
General, anything you'd like to add to clarify to your remarks or response to our questions before I close out the hearing?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I -- I just want to thank the committee for your support. I would underscore the importance of ERI in terms of getting our -- our posture changed and in the right place. And that -- that it -- it will take, you know, predictable, continued funding in order to complete what we've begun. And when we go into the -- into the classified hearing, I can be more specific about what I see that being...
MORAN: Thank you.
SCAPARROTTI: ... in the future.
MORAN: General, again, thanks for being with us today in this setting, and the one that will follow. We thank you for everything that you do, and we would ask, on behalf of me and my colleagues, that you express our gratitude to those who serve under your command throughout Europe.
For members of the subcommittee, any questions for the record should be turned in to subcommittee staff no later than Tuesday, May the 9th. We'll now recess and reconvene in SBC (ph) 217 for a classified session.