By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
May 17, 2007 – Supporting the global war on terror remains U.S. European Command's top priority, but the command also is striving to strengthening partnerships within the region and in Africa, the command's leader said today. EUCOM's strategy of "active security" is aimed at defeating transnational terrorists and violent extremists who threaten the United States, its allies and U.S. interests, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock told Senate Armed Services Committee members during a hearing on the command's fiscal 2008 budget request.
The goal, Craddock said, is to deny enemies of the United States the freedom to operate and tap into their resources. EUCOM officials also want to improve partner-nation capabilities that promote stability.
Craddock called security cooperation the cornerstone of this strategy and described an array of programs within EUCOM focused on building "able partners." These efforts range from airborne and non-lethal weapons training to programs that develop partners' capabilities for peacekeeping and contingency operations, he said.
"These efforts mitigate the conditions that lead to conflict, prepare the way for success and reduce the need for substantial U.S. involvement," he said.
Meanwhile, EUCOM's transformation initiatives are ensuring that U.S. troops based there remain relevant, both in terms of their capabilities and their ability to project U.S. national influence, Craddock said.
These troops, both conventional and special operations forces, enable the command to develop and maintain trust and long-term relationships with partner nations as they help build their capabilities and capacities, he said.
Craddock pointed to NATO as the "preeminent security alliance in the world" and said it's essential that it continues to receive solid U.S. support. "It is in our national interest to ensure that NATO succeeds," he said. "The leadership and capabilities our nation contributes to the NATO alliance remain fundamental to preserving the transatlantic partnership."
The general cited NATO as a key factor in the collective security of its member states and beyond. NATO has broadened its focus to take "a broader, more comprehensive view of security in an interdependent world where the threats are increasingly nontraditional and more global in nature," he said.
NATO members and 17 other troop-contributing nations are redefining the alliance's role through operations in Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Iraq, the Baltics and Africa, he said.
"Today, over 50,000 NATO military forces are deployed in support of NATO operations," Craddock told the committee. "This is a visible and effective demonstration of NATO resolve to meet those security challenges," he said, both in Europe and in other strategic areas.
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