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American Forces Press Service

Russian Action Creates New Paradigm in Europe, Breedlove Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

DEAUVILLE, France, June 10, 2014 – The Russian annexation of Crimea and its actions on the Ukraine border have prompted NATO to undergo future self-evaluations in three areas, the alliance's supreme allied commander for Europe said last week.

Speaking to American Forces Press Service during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who also commands U.S. European Command, discussed how Russia has create a new paradigm in Europe.

"If you look across the last 12 years, we have purposely set out to try to have a partnership relationship and make Russia a partner," he said. "And we have made decisions about numbers of forces, readiness of forces [and] basing of forces on the fact that Russia was going to be a cooperative partner in the future."

The general explained a timeline of events in which Russia has undertaken provocative actions detrimental to its cooperative partnership in NATO.

"What we've seen, unfortunately, -- first in Georgia in 2008, and now in Crimea in '14 -- we have seen a nation mass forces on a border, cross an internationally recognized border and annex by force portions of a sovereign nation. We kind of thought that was over in Europe. But apparently it's not, and so we will now have to look at three things in the future."

Breedlove said NATO will review its readiness, responsiveness and basing in Europe, and he explained the alliance's approach in each area.

"We're going to have to look at the readiness of our forces. … Is it appropriate?" he asked. "We're going to have to take a look at the responsiveness of our forces. Is it right? We have the [NATO Response Force] on 15 days, 30 days or more. Do we need to have it on two days, five days, a week?"

Also important, the general said, is where forces are positioned, because basing has a lot to do with responsiveness.

"If you don't have to get on a train or a plane, you're much more responsive then if you have to get on a train or a plane," he explained. "So we're going to have to look at that."

Breedlove also discussed NATO's joint warfighting approach, noting the value of the alliance's ability to pull together a joint force quickly for missions in Libya and elsewhere.

"We absolutely embrace and understand that no service stands alone," Breedlove said. "No service can do the mission alone. Every service is dependent on every other service, so joint warfighting is all that we do."

The general noted that this is how the U.S. military has operated for the last two decades, and he said he thinks the notion has "caught on with our friends and neighbors."

"You see the British talking about building a joint expeditionary force," Breedlove said. "It looks very much like what we have done in NATO."

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