Report: Army Needs More Funds for Europe

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A new Rand Corp. report questions whether the U.S. Army is manned, equipped and funded to meet possible commitments in Europe. It focuses on changing demands and accumulating commitments that “mean U.S. strategy is out of alignment with the resources that the nation has been devoting to the defense program.”

The report, “America’s Security Deficit: Addressing the Imbalance Between Strategy and Resources in a Turbulent World,” was released as Congress and the White House are deadlocked over defense spending and overall budget priorities. Europe is a prime example of the problem, according to the report. “Nowhere is the gap between U.S. security commitments and regional posture more pronounced than in Europe,” it says.

In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the U.S. has increased rotational deployments of Army units to Europe, especially concentrating on sending company-sized units to the Baltics, and efforts are underway to increase prepositioned stockpiles for U.S.-based units to fall in on during an emergency. There also are efforts to reinforce tactical aviation, create a brigade-sized joint task force that could deploy in two days, and persuade European allies to increase defense spending and capabilities.

This is not enough. “Even if fully implemented, the resulting NATO posture in areas contiguous to Russia and Belarus would not support a credible defense against a determined Russian attack,” Rand concludes.

The report says the U.S. needs to spend more money on defense. Living under the spending caps of the Budget Control Act would likely force additional cuts in the size of the military and further delay critical modernization programs. “To put it plainly, the United States’ credibility and influence internationally, the safety and security of its nuclear arsenal, and the viability of its all-volunteer force could all erode,” the report says.

More money—in the neighborhood of $450 billion to $810 billion over the budget control caps between 2016 and 2024—would provide funds to counter new threats in Europe, the report says. They could include facilities to house equipment and supplies in Baltic nations for three U.S. armor brigade combat teams, larger rotational ground force exercises in eastern Europe, a forward-deployed fires brigade, and creation of a corps-level U.S. Army headquarters. Also included is active defense against guided missiles, rockets, mortars and artillery; and forward deployment of advanced anti-armor munitions.