Gen. Philip Breedlove, the head of U.S. European Command, said Thursday that officials are reviewing the military’s force structure in Europe now that Russia has proved it is not a friend of the West.
He said officials have been talking about whether the number of U.S. troops in Europe is “adequate.”
“The forces in Europe over the past 20 years have been sized for a situation where we were looking at Russia as a partner,” Gen. Breedlove said. “What we see now, of course, is that Russia has demonstrated it’s not a partner.”
An escalation in violence with Russia represents a fundamental shift in how European security has been handled for decades, Gen. Breedlove said.
“Russia is blatantly attempting to change the rules and principles that have been the foundation of European security for decades. The challenge posed by a resurgent Russia is global, not regional, and enduring, not temporary,” he said.
In addition to Russian aggression, European forces are also dealing with an influx of terrorist extremists as foreign fighters who joined the Islamic State are traveling back to Europe, Gen. Breedlove said.
“Europe faces a surge of violent extremism from foreign fighters returning home from the fight in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
Gen. Breedlove said forces in Europe have also had to contend with tight budgets under sequestration caps that have forced troops “to assume significantly greater risk.”
“Our timelines are longer, our preparations are less robust and our fundamental ability to deter and defeat in a timely and effective manner is less sure than it could be,” he said.