Don't Tell Russia: U.S. Forces in Europe Lack Firepower

David Axe

David Axe

Security,

That’s one problem that U.S. Air Force general Tod Wolters, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, described in a wide-ranging interview that Air Force magazine published in April 2019.

Don't Tell Russia: U.S. Forces in Europe Lack Firepower

U.S. forces in Europe are getting smarter and more flexible. But they still lack firepower.

That’s one problem that U.S. Air Force general Tod Wolters, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, described in a wide-ranging interview that Air Force magazine published in April 2019.

U.S. president Donald Trump has nominated Wolters to head U.S. European Command, taking over from U.S. Army general Mike Scaparrotti.

Wolters said EUCOM’s mobility and intelligence operations have improved. He mentioned improvements to air bases in the Baltic states as well as the new base in Poland for Air Force MQ-9 drones.

But the 67,000-strong EUCOM still lacks the forces to precisely strike an attacking Russian force deep behind the front line. “You always want to shoot faster, you always want to shoot more accurately and you always want to shoot longer,” Wolters said.

Air Forces Europe oversees just three fighter wings. One in the United Kingdom flying F-15Cs and F-15Es and one each with F-16s in Italy and Germany.

The three wings combined possess fewer than 200 fighters, none of them stealthy. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters and bombers including B-2 stealth bombers frequently deploy to Europe on a temporary basis as part of the $7-billion-a-year European Deterrence Initiative, Washington’s response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

“You want to be able to put more targets at risk across the potential battle space, wherever that battle space may be,” Wolters said.

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