News / USA

    US Defense Focus on Asia Forces New Thinking in Europe

    Al Pessin

    When President Obama announced his new global defense strategy in January, he put the emphasis on Asia, and focused his budget decisions on developing air, sea and special operations capabilities most appropriate for potential security threats in that region.  That raised some questions about the security of Europe, where the United States is the main defense partner.

    The change of command ceremony for the U.S. Army corps in Europe last month had all the usual pomp and solemnity.  But the new commander knew that part of his job would be to cut his combat force in half.  The president's new defense strategy calls for removing two of the four U.S. Army combat brigades based in Europe.

    With the U.S. defense budget being tightened, the plan is to focus on sea power and air capabilities that are more appropriate for the vast expanses of Asia and the Pacific Ocean, and on Special Forces for counter-terrorism missions.

    The United States has gone to some lengths to reassure European allies that the U.S. commitment to their security remains strong. It will rotate troops through Europe for training, and it sent both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a security conference in Germany.

    Secretary Panetta brought the same message to a defense ministers' meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.  U.S. officials recognize there are still potential security threats in Europe, including Iran's missile and nuclear programs, but not the kind of threats that would likely require a response by ground forces.

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he is not concerned about the withdrawal of the two U.S. Army brigades.

    But he told VOA European countries need to recognize the importance of the eastward shift of U.S. defense priorities.

    "The U.S. defense strategy is a clear signal to European allies that they must take on proper parts of the responsibility for our common security," said Rasmussen.  "We operate against the backdrop of declining defense budgets because of economic austerity.  So we need to make more efficient use of resources through pooling and sharing of resources, through multinational cooperation instead of purely national solutions."

    With the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan winding down over the next three years, the new defense strategy raises a different concern for one Brussels-based analyst.  Giles Merritt of the Security and Defense Agenda says European countries must ensure they still have influence in Washington, particularly regarding any future interventions like the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

    "I think the Europeans see their interest as really remaining as close to the Americans as possible in order to be a restraining influence if nothing else," said Merritt.  "We must try and make U.S. decision-making much more multi-lateral than it has been."

    The full impact of the shift of U.S. defense priorities toward Asia will not be felt for some years to come.  But it has European security officials and analysts thinking about and planning for a future in which their strongest ally, the United States, will increasingly be focusing elsewhere.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.