The commander of U.S military forces in Europe told lawmakers Tuesday that he needs a larger combat force, including an armored division and increased naval power, to deter Russian military forces on the continent.
Military.com's Matthew Cox reports that Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, testifying before the House Armed Service Committee, said:
"We need a greater force there, I think, potentially in the land component,"
The general said he needs the "enablers of an armored division -- a fires brigade, an engineer brigade, air defense -- those kinds of systems in the numbers that I need there."
"I am suggesting an additional division because ... I need armored and mechanized brigades," Scaparrotti said.
"The reason a division is so important is at that level you can then have the command and control, communications capability to integrate the different domains in the way we fight. And that division brings the enablers like appropriate artillery, engineers, air defense, etc. that fill out a proper defense."
Scaparrotti said he could also use an "additional naval component on rotation through Europe to deter specifically with respect to anti-submarine warfare," an area Russia continues to modernize.
"It would be wonderful to have a carrier support group with amphibious forces, more than I have now," he said.
In addition to modernizing conventional ground, naval and air forces, Russia is refining the capability of its nuclear arsenal, Scaparrotti said.
"One of the things that you see that is disturbing is the fact that they are using similar weapon systems that can either be conventional or nuclear, which then makes it difficult for us to clearly understand what they have employed," he said.
"And secondly, within their doctrine, they have made the statement openly again that they see a use for nuclear tactical capabilities within what we would consider a conventional conflict, which is very alarming."
Rep. Mike Turner, a Republican from Ohio, asked Scaparrotti if he believes forward stationing an armored unit on a permanent basis rather than rotational would be helpful in deterring Russia.
Though that is a U.S. Army decision, "I would prefer to have an enduring armored force in Europe," Scaparrotti said.
Scaparrotti said the "real trigger" was Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.
"The occupation of Ukraine, for instance, was an act that clearly set out that we have Russia as a competitor that is willing and did break international law," he said.
"And I think what you see in their activities today often is pushing whenever they can against the international norms. They still occupy Ukraine and Georgia with troops without invitation."
Russia has also been behind cyber-attacks that are "criminal in some cases," such as the attack on the Ukranian power grid and attempts to impact elections in the United States, France and Germany, Scaparrotti said.
"So I think if you look their actions, it tells us that we have a nation here that we need to be very sober about," he said. "We don't seek conflict with them; deterrence in fact has its mission to prevent conflict of war. But at this point, Russia has not been very responsive to the international community."
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And the scaremongery, fake facts (Ukraine hack disavowed by CrowdStrike now, and power grabs will continue.