Message to Russia: U.S. Army kicks off major artillery drills across Europe

Message to Russia: U.S. Army kicks off major artillery drills across Europe

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By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Monday, May 3, 2021

The U.S. Army this week will kick off a series of major artillery drills across Europe and northern Africa, sending a clear message to Moscow amid a buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border.

Pentagon leaders said the exercises, dubbed “Fires Shock,” will continue over the next six weeks with drills in Estonia, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and Morocco. Military officials said the initiative will demonstrate that the U.S. and its allies are capable of projecting power throughout Europe.

“From towed artillery to long-range rocket systems, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has the organic ability to rapidly deliver precision fires to support our joint force and NATO allies anywhere in Europe and Africa,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Norrie, commanding general of 7th Army Training Command. “These exercises demonstrate our ability to command and control long-range fires across continents, using a variety of networked and multi-domain communications platforms.”

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Long-range fires are a key component of the Army’s 21st-century battle plan. Victory in any potential conflicts with Russia or China will almost surely rely on America’s ability to strike enemy targets from great distances.

The Fires Shock exercises come amid renewed Russian aggression toward Ukraine. While Russian forces reportedly have begun to pull back from the Ukrainian border, there are still thousands of troops in the area — the most since 2014, when Moscow forcibly annexed Crimea.

Biden administration officials say the situation remains worrisome and that it’s unclear what Russian President Vladimir Putin may do in the coming weeks.

“I can’t tell you that we know Mr. Putin’s intentions,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday evening. “There are any number of things that he could do or choose not to do.  What we have seen in the last few days is apparently a decision to pull back some of those forces, and we’ve some of them, in fact, start to pull back.”

“We’re watching that very, very closely,” Mr. Blinken said. 

Pentagon consolidates U.S. Army Europe, Africa Commands

Pentagon consolidates U.S. Army Europe, Africa Commands

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By Mike Glenn

The Washington Times

Friday, November 20, 2020

U.S. Army Africa — the Army’s service component of U.S. Africa Command — will be folded into the command structure of U.S. Army Europe to become a new command — U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF,) Pentagon officials announced Friday.

The new unit will be the service component for both U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command. Army Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, recently awarded his fourth star, will be in command.

Under the reorganization, U.S. Army Africa/Southern European Task Force will be designated as U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) with its two-star commanding general serving as deputy commanding general for Africa in USAREUR-AF, Pentagon officials said.

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“This consolidation enhances global and regional readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy,” Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said in a statement. “The new structure will increase command and control effectiveness, flexibility and the capability to conduct large-scale, joint and multi-domain operations.”

The move also will enhance efficiency by streamlining the headquarters’ ability to execute its missions and improve response efforts, officials said.

For decades, the U.S. Army Europe commander had been a four-star general. That changed when the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the reduction of the U.S. military presence in Europe.