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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid