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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora