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US forces – Between Europe and Asia

Aircraft carrier USS George Washington near Guam.

Aircraft carrier at sunset, courtesy of Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr

This article was originally published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) on 26 May 2016.

On 3 May 2016, with traditional pomp and circumstance, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti replaced General Philip Breedlove as commander of US forces in Europe (EUCOM), and at the same time became NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

General Scaparrotti assumes command in a very different environment from when his predecessor arrived in Europe three years earlier. Since the US ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific region was announced in 2011/2012, EUCOM has steadily lost resources and forces. During the peak of the Cold War, there were over half a million US personnel assigned to the European theatre of which 200,000 belonged to the US army alone. Today, around 65,000 US military personnel remain permanently stationed in Europe of which some 33,000 are US army soldiers.

However, recent developments to the east and south of Europe have pushed European defence back onto the agenda in Washington. A sign of this was the announcement by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in February 2016 to change military spending priorities with more support for NATO allies and more spending on advanced weapons. This reflects a new strategic environment marked by five big evolving geo-strategic challenges: Russian assertiveness; global terrorism and in particular the rise of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); China; North Korea; and Iran.

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Libyan Lessons for Europe

Libyan flag graffiti, courtesy Ben Sutherland/flickr

This article was originally published by Carnegie Europe on 2 February 2016.

Almost five years since the start of NATO’s military intervention in Libya, there is mounting speculation that a coalition of Western countries will launch a new military campaign there to tackle the growing threat from the self-styled Islamic State.

Since the 2011 ouster of strongman leader Muammar Qaddafi, a civil war has prevented the formation of a functioning Libyan government, creating the space for both the emergence of an Islamic State–controlled area around the city of Sirte and large flows of migrants and refugees into the EU. (Over 157,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy alone since January 2015.)

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Military-wise, There Is No Europe

Image: geralt/Pixabay

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 June 2015.

For two decades a wide variety of plans, guidelines and roadmaps have been published and issued on European defense matters. The adoption of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the creation of the European Union Military Committee and European Union Military Staff, the development of the European Defence Agency, the inception of the European Union Battlegroups, and the implementation of several military crisis management operations from Kosovo to Somalia and Iraq to Guinea-Bissau, are all examples of the process by which European states are trying to facilitate the creation of a new post-Cold War era military dimension to European politics. In other words, these above-mentioned projects have been attempts to form a European-wide approach to security and defense policy. » More

A Good Year (So Far) for Europe’s Separatists

The flags of Scotland and the United Kingdom. Image: The Laird of Oldham /Flickr

The European Union’s (EU) separatist movements have never had it so good. Faltering economic conditions, unpopular austerity measures and ‘out of touch’ governments have combined to reignite secessionism like never before. As a result, separatist fervour has never been so vocal – both in public and the national corridors of power. And there’s more to come. » More

Blue Helmets: Why Europe Should Contribute More Troops to the UN

Italian UN soldier with the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon. Image: www.esercito.difesa.it/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Europe’s World on 9 April, 2015.

As tens of thousands of Western troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan in recent months, there remains a pressing need for peacekeeping troops in many other unstable parts of the world.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, recently asked Europe to contribute more UN peacekeeping troops. This may sound ironic as the United States stopped providing Blue Helmets after the 1993 debacle in Somalia, which cost the lives of 43 U.S. soldiers. Europe, however, should answer the American call. Studies show the deployment of peacekeeping troops can diminish the chance of renewed conflict by 80%. In recent examples, UN Blue Helmets have calmed the situation in northern Mali and prevented atrocities in the Central African Republic. » More

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