An Exclusive Interview with U.S Army Europe and Africa-3 (Part-1)

An exclusive interview with U.S. Army Europe and Africa Spokesperson. Conducted by U.S Europe World Affairs Editor in Chief.

 

It’s a great pleasure to have you in this interview Sir. Thank you for your time.

Q 1. In November 2020 the department of Army announced to consolidate the U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Army Africa into a single Army Service Component Command. What are the immediate and the long-term strategic interests for this consolidation? And please cast a light on the missions of this new (USAREUR-AF) structure?

U.S Army Europe and Africa Spokesperson:  The U.S. Army recently announced the consolidation of U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Army Africa into one Army Service Component Command. This is an exciting change, and it’s a change that will allow the U.S. Army to expand its focus and enhance its commitment to both the European and African continents.

This consolidation is an example of how the U.S. Army is modernizing, we are thinking across hemispheres rather than artificially dividing problem sets. But this is not just a consolidation of a headquarters, it’s a consolidation of capabilities across theaters.

The European and African theaters are inextricably linked. Their close geography and economic ties suggest a regional security issue left unchecked could quickly spread between both continents.

The consolidation will also allow greater synchronization for European-centric issues, such as migration from Africa, as well as Africa-centric issues such as operations with NATO allies on the continent.

In addition, this consolidation enables the dynamic shifting of forces and assets from one theater to another, which improves our global and regional contingency response time; and optimizes  command and control of all U.S. land forces.

Our new combined headquarters will provide the administrative backbone and strategic-level guidance for all land forces in both Europe and Africa.

This will enable the Southern European Task Force – Africa, or SETAF-AF, to spend every day  focused on enhancing regional security and stability by working with our African, international and interagency partners.

SETAF-AF will continue direct support to AFRICOM, remain in Italy and retain its current strength of military and civilian personnel. It is responsible for all Army operations and assets in Africa and Italy, to eventually include the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and will focus on its mission as the nucleus of a joint task force for operations on the African continent. Likewise, the newly re-activated V Corps will assume much of the operational and tactical-level command, control and planning functions in Europe. 

V Corps, with a headquarters in Poland, will allow U.S. land forces to support more exercises and training opportunities with our allies and partners, increasing readiness and our ability to deter potential adversaries.

Q 2. Covering 4,000 kilometers, with the participation of 15 NATO states and 2 partner  countries, the U.S-led Defender-Europe-20 was designed as the third-largest military exercise in European continent since the Cold War. What was the core military concept behind this exercise? 

With the challenges of COVID-19 in 2020, how far the Army was able to implement the exercise and achieve its goal?

U.S Army Europe and Africa Spokesperson:  At its heart, DEFENDER-Europe 20 was designed as a deployment exercise to build strategic  readiness in support of the U.S. National Defense Strategy and NATO deterrence objectives. It  clearly demonstrated the U.S.’ steadfast commitment to NATO and our ability and willingness to deploy a large, combat-credible force to Europe to respond to crisis. Furthermore, it demonstrated the unity of the Alliance and strengthened our relationships with our allies and partners across the theater.  

    In October 2019, the U.S. Army announced that 20,000 U.S. Soldiers would deploy to Europe in spring 2020 as part of exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20. In February 2020, equipment and personnel from the U.S. began arriving in Europe. In March, COVID-19 hit and forced major modifications to the exercise in both size and scope. At that time, more than 6,000 Soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment had already arrived in Europe.

The U.S. Army Soldiers that arrived in Europe at the end of February and early March were here as part of exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20. Phase I of the modified DEFENDER-Europe 20 was linked exercise Allied Spirit, which took place at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, June 5-19, with approximately 6,000 U.S. and Polish Soldiers. In Phase II of the modified DEFENDER-Europe 20, a U.S.-based combined arms battalion conducted an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise to Europe July 14 and Aug. 22.

 Q 3. Will there be the continuation of Defender Europe in 2021 and beyond?

U.S Army Europe and Africa Spokesperson: Yes, DEFENDER-Europe 20 was the first of what we anticipate will become an annual exercise. We are currently planning for DEFENDER-Europe 21, which will focus on building operational readiness and interoperability with a greater number of NATO allies and partners over a wider area of operations.

DEFENDER-Europe 21 is still in the planning stages. We anticipate a public announcement in March, with activities beginning in April and the bulk of activities occurring in May and June.

To be continued in part-2 early next week 

News from:  U.S KFOR Regional Command East             

KFOR Regional Command East Religious Support Teams                     NATO-KFOR

Acknowledgment: Image ©U.S Army/CW5 Pennie Temmerman and Kara Stetson, March 12, 2020

The Interview is subject to Copyright Law. ©The United States Army Europe and Africa /U.S Army/ U.S Europe World Affairs. 

U.S National Guard State Partnership Program-3 Iowa National Guard

The National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP) aspires to accentuate on building mutual, and enduring relationships between the National Guard states and territories with the partner countries. Under this program, the United States provides a wide range of assistance and aids to the partner countries, including: 

  • Capacity building;
  • Military and security training;
  • Helping to establish and develop the democratic and accountable civil and governmental institutions and offices;
  • Public safety; 
  • Assisting in economic development and growth.

©The National Guard

The Iowa National Guard and its SPP with Kosovo dates back to 2011. The partnership’s goals are additionally in the fields of military and security cooperation, education, economic and business development in both public and private sectors, agriculture and market. Along with this program, the Iowa National Guard has been serving in  KFOR , the NATO-led Operation for peace and stability in Kosovo since 1999.                                                                         

As the recent fruition of this partnership, in January 2021 the government of Kosovo signed a memorandum to deploy the Kosovo Security Force to missions overseas jointly with the IOWA National Guard.

More news on Iowa National Guard its SPP with Kosovo: 

News from:  U.S KFOR Regional Command East                Iowa National Guard                            KFOR Regional Command East Religious Support Teams                     NATO-KFOR

By Editor in Chief (Copyrighted material)
*Acknowledgment: The historical facts in this article are from U.S National Guard, Iowa National Guard, U.S Army. 

An Exclusive Interview with U.S Army KFOR Regional Command East

An exclusive interview with MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs, U.S Army KFOR Regional Command East. Conducted by U.S Europe World Affairs Editor in Chief.

Sir, it is a great honor to have you with us in this interview. Thank you very much.

Q: Since 1999 KFOR has been the pillar of security and stability in Kosovo. Could you give us an overall picture of KFOR mission and the crucial role that the U.S Army holds in it.

MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs: The US along with NATO and Allied partners are leading a peace support operation in Kosovo to build peace and stability in the area. Under the authority of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 KFOR’s mission is to contribute to a safe and secure environment, support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo, support and coordinate the international humanitarian effort and civil presence in the region. Regional Command East (RC-E) is the US led team responsible for the KFOR mission in the eastern part of Kosovo. This team includes aviation, medical, and forces capable of monitoring the safety and security of Kosovo citizens along with providing a response if needed.

Q: In the last two decades the United States has been the major contributor in NATO-led KFOR operation. Please enlighten us about the U.S posture in KFOR at the present time, and its achievements in this mission so far.

MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs: The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division from the Iowa Army National Guard is supporting NATO and operating as the US led multinational Regional Command East headquarters for KFOR. The US team is comprised of Soldiers from the Michigan, Maryland, Delaware and Washington National Guard along with US Army Reserve and Active Duty troops from Fort Hood, Texas. Our priority is to provide a safe and secure environment to build peace and stability in the area and let the people of Kosovo have freedom of movement throughout the region. Every Soldier in KFOR whether it be US, NATO or Allied Forces stand ready if called upon by the institutions of Kosovo as a third responder after the Kosovo Police and EULEX. We have full faith and confidence in the Kosovo Police, which is a fully capable force, in enforcing the rule of law throughout Kosovo.

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Iowa National Guard has a State Partnership Program with Kosovo. How the significant impacts of this partnership could be described at the military and local levels?

MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs: The Iowa National Guard and Kosovo are state partners. There are many cities in Kosovo who have sister cities in Iowa. However, under the current mission, the forward deployed Iowa National Guard Soldiers are here to support NATO and contribute to regional security, promote stability, and ensure everyone feels safe and secure in the area. While operating under a NATO headquarters the relationship is limited between the Soldiers deployed in Kosovo with the institutions of Kosovo from a military standpoint. Some of our leadership and Soldiers have been to Kosovo before which helps with knowing the area and they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that assists in our current mission.

Q: In April 2020 the U.S.-led Kosovo Force Regional-Command East, delivered personal protective equipment to North and South Mitrovica. Could you tell us more about the role of U.S Army in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic in region?

MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs: Although the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division arrived in November to Kosovo, KFOR has assisted the institutions of Kosovo to deliver personal protective equipment to some of the local population and health care facilities. Restrictions were placed for the safety of our Soldiers and also for the population to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks have been required, gatherings have been limited to essential personnel only, hand sanitizer was been distributed and encouraged to use regularly. RC-East never wavered in our ability or readiness to accomplish our mission of providing a safe and secure environment, but we did have to modify how we conducted meetings and took more precautions to protect our force and the local people we have to interact with.

 

 

KFOR Chaplains were hosted for lunch by the KFOR Command Team, Major General Franco Federici and Command Sergeant Major Andrea Torre. Left to Right: Chaplain Cory Van Sloten (USA), Command Sergeant Major Andrea Torre (Italy), Chaplain Stephano Tollu (Italy), Chaplain Steve De Haan (USA), Major General Franco Federici (Italy), Chaplain Lukasz Siedlecki (Poland), Chaplain László Nanai (Hungary), Chaplain Joshua Twiest (USA). January 21, 2021©U.S Army KFOR RC East

 Q: Among many other outstanding tasks that the U.S Army has been performing in KFOR is its Regional Command East Religious Support Team. The KFOR RC-E Religious Support Team  has been not only a special place for the multination partners in KFOR but also a place for promoting the interfaith dialogs in support of peace and stability in Kosovo. Could you please elaborate on this U.S Army-led humanitarian effort. 

MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs: Regional Command East’s Religious Support Team is led by Chaplain (Maj.) Cory Van Sloten who meets regularly with religious leaders throughout RC-East to promote dialog, peace and stability between members of all faith. He is able to bring a vast range of experience and knowledge to the organization which he is able to pass on to religious leaders. Religious freedom, religious dialog, and religious cooperation are some of the necessary themes Chaplain Van Sloten shares.

News from:  U.S KFOR Regional Command East

KFOR Regional Command East Religious Support Teams                              NATO-KFOR

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* Image-1: U.S Army KFOR Regional Command East, May 2, 2019©U.S Army KFOR RC East

* The Interview is subject to Copyright Law. ©U.S KFOR Regional Command East/NATO-KFOR/ United States Army Europe and Africa/ U.S Europe World Affairs. All Rights reserved.

U.S National Guard and its State Partnership Program-2 D.C National Guard

The State Partnership Program (SPP) initiated originally by Department of Defense in 1991, is a solid joint project with the State Department. The program is mainly implemented by the National Guard of every U.S State, territories, and the District of Colombia, as currently partnering with 89 nations across the different continents. 

Added to military engagements, the partnership also includes diplomatic, economic development, and capacity building plans.

The National Guard of District of Colombia has been in partnership with Jamaica (Western Hemisphere) since 1999. This partnership incorporates the completion of almost 20 engagements a year on a mutually benefited outcome.

The integral part of these engagements are highlighted as follows: 

  • Military training and exercises;
  • Military police training and domestic security, counternarcotic;
  • Border, port and aviation security;
  • Training against violent extremist organizations;
  • Detect, mitigation, and respond to natural/human-made disasters;
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief;
  • Crisis management;
  • Medical, dental training, as well as the combat medical events. 

In February 2019 the D.C National Guard expanded its SPP by forming an additional partnership with Burkina Faso (West Africa).  

“The D.C. National Guard is proud to be a part of the multi-faceted relationship between the United States and Burkina Faso,”   

“I am confident that the D.C. National Guard and Burkina Faso will benefit from the extraordinary talents, skills and experiences each will bring to this exciting partnership”, expressed Army Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, D.C. National Guard Commanding General. ©U.S Army February 4 2019 ©D.C National Guard 

 

More Army news on D.C National Guard State partnership Program with Burkina Faso 

Expanded engagements in Burkina Faso, Promoting Prosperity and Growth

News from:  U.S Army Europe and Africa     U.S National Guard     U.S Embassy Jamaica

*Acknowledgment: the facts in the article are from District of Colombia National Guard, U.S Army. Image ©DoD/ Tech. Sgt. Arthur Mondale Wright. 

The U.S National Guard and its State Partnership Program with the World-1

Established in 1993, the State Partnership Program (SPP) is the Department of Defense initiative that enables the National Guard of every U.S State to form a long term and mutual partnerships and a military to military engagements with a specific country across the globe. This partnership encompasses all areas of civil and military components, opening the pathway to robust engagements between the U.S Armed Forces and the military of the partner countries.  

Spanning nearly three decades of achievements and connectivity with the world, the SPP has materialized the valuable partnerships with one third of the world countries, building the most enduring international cooperation and bonds with over 89 nations in:

  • Africa;
  • Asia;
  • Central Asia;
  • Europe (Eastern, Western, Central, and the Baltic Region); 
  • Western Hemisphere.

In the framework of the National Guard State Partnership Program this time we introduce Alabama National Guard. 

From community works like building schools, bridges, hospitals, combing the medical teams of covid-19 response in 2020, to international disaster training and readiness, Alabama National Guard has been strengthening its partnership with Romania since 1993.

Through the SPP, Alabama and Romani have achieved over 200 crucial engagements which benefited both sides of the Atlantic.

 

 

Members of the Alabama National Guard welcome a team of specialists from the Romanian Ministry of National Defense at Montgomery Aviation. May 25, 2020

©National Guard /1SG Sandra D. Lucas. 

More news on Defense cooperation: 

European multinational disaster response exercise Blonde Avalanche 2020

Romanian defense chief visits Alabama National Guard

News from:   U.S Army Europe and Africa       U.S National Guard          U.S Embassy Romania

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*Acknowledgment: The historical facts in this article are from U.S National Guard

The United States Armed Forces and its new Strategic Concept in Europe

 

 

 

While still the state and non -state sponsored adversarial threats are posing challenges to the security and stability of European landscape –the United States has audibly in many ways, reaffirmed its commitment to Europe.

Albeit with the less number of its troops, yet with the deployable rotational forces, the U.S has promised for a long stay, to defend and fortifies its European partners.

Coextending with that– the United States military has conceptualized a new strategic planning which empowers the U.S with the 30,000 troops, and the stepped up rotational forces, to maintain the same efficacy of 300,000 boots on the grounds.

With this new military concept of the Department of Defense formulated in the recent years as ‘The European Reassurance Initiative (ERI)’ signed by President Obama  in December 2014, the U.S conveys explicitly and forthright that its Armed-Forces will always be part of European allies and provide every assurance for European Security and Defense.                                    

With that the U.S Armed Forces in Europe has redefined its vision, role– reshaping its partnerships with the European counterparts into a new level of political and military proximity and closeness.

Under the same scheme, the U.S European Command has intensified, in the recent years, its engagement in preparing and upgrading the European Armed Forces from south and the Black sea to the northern European hemisphere the Baltic sea– to the highest military architectural format—effectively interoperable with the U.S military in any operational environments.

The new strategic planning in Europe encompasses a wide range of trainings, joint maneuvers and exercises which are formulated to increase:

  • The interoperability of U.S-European Armed-Forces;
  • Modernization of European military weaponry equipment, technology and technique;
  • Advancement and the upgrade of European military capabilities from air to the cyber- space.

The planning goes further with a special focus to bolster:

  • European capability for deterrence;
  • Their strength and their combat power, simultaneously.

This new concept and its wide-scope of applicable approach– has also inaugurated a new chapter towards the standardization of U.S-European Armed-Forces, enabling them to prepare and maintain the high readiness for countering the global crisis, in a curtailed frame of time yet with the most effective measures in place.

“We will be always going to be part of Coalition if not Alliance. All our best and most reliable Partners come from Europe whether NATO or Partnership for Peace Countries.  So the Chance  for practice with them is a great opportunity to continue to build the trust with them” Excerpts from the statement Commanding General of U.S Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges.  In the interview during the NATO Exercise, Norway March 2016.

By Catherine Stella Schmidt   (Copyrighted material)

 

Interview with Minister Lucia Puttrich and her official visit to U.S Army European Command

 

 

 

 

Interview with H.E.  Minister Lucia Puttrich, Minister of European and Federal Affairs and Representative of the State of Hessen at the Federal Government of Germany, conducted by U.S Europe World Affairs Editor in Chief.

 

Your Excellency thank you very much indeed for accepting this interview. 

Q: You had an official visit at the end of August to U.S Army Center Europe. Please tell about us your general impression of the US Army in Germany, especially in regard with a great relations between die Bundeswehr and U.S Armed Forces.

My visit to the US-Army Europe headquarters in Wiesbaden was very interesting. We, as state government, have a close and trusting relationship to the US armed forces in Hessen. This is certainly due to a long history. We, as Germans, are very grateful to the USA that we were given the chance to rebuild our country according to democratic principles after the Second World War. For this, important decisions were made in Hessen. In 1948, the Hessian Constitution was signed at the Headquarter of the US armed forces and on July 1, 1948, the eleven West-German Minister-Presidents were given the mandate to prepare a German constitution.

The good cooperation, including in the civil-military area, is highly important for the safety of our citizens, especially in the face of present threats and challenges. Meeting Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges and his team convinced me of this [necessity]. Speaking about the good relationship between the Bundeswehr and the US Army here in Europe, it is of course remarkable that a Bundeswehr-General serves as chief of staff here in Wiesbaden. This is not self-understood but a strong sign for the importance of the German-American cooperation in this area.

 Q:  How the American presence in the South is received and welcomed by the local community.

We, the people of Hessen, are open-minded and good hosts. We make sure that the soldiers, the civil employees and their families feel at ease here. Moving the European headquarters of the US army from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden is a sign for the good relations between the USA and Hessen. This was a groundbreaking decision of the US army with a highly symbolic character. The people of Wiesbaden and the people in the region have gained new neighbors with the relocation. We want to maintain the same close and good relationship we are presently enjoying. The people of Hessen have a strong welcoming culture.

 Q: What are the outcomes/benefit of this friendship between your government and great community in the south with the Americans.

The German-American friendship also has a positive influence on the civil-military cooperation – not only with the US armed forces but also with the local command of the Bundeswehr. The trusting cooperation and the continuous exchange of information between the State Government, the ministry of the interior and the respective armed forces is remarkable.

 

News from:  U.S Army Europe and Africa         Hessen Government 

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Image:  U.S. Army Europe headquarters welcomed Minister Lucia Puttrich, the Hessian Minister for European and Federal Affairs, who met with Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commander of Army Europe, and his staff.  August 24, 2015 Wiesbaden, Germany ©U.S Army 

References:  Strong Europe, German-US Military partnerships

Hessian Minister of European and Federal Affairs visits U.S. Army Europe

 

* The Interview is subject to Copyright Law.  All Rights reserved.

© Hessen government / US Europe World Affairs.com.