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.
Troopers assigned to Reaper Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, drive their M1134 Anti-Tank Guided Missile Vehicle to it's firing position during the squadron's live-fire exercise at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, located near Rose Barracks, Germany, March 15, 2016. (U.S. Army/Sgt. William A. Tanner)
A four-person vehicle crew with the U.S. Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe won a personal victory in early February 2019 when they beat out other crews to claim their squadron's "top gun" prize.
But the crew's achievement underscores an uncomfortable fact for the U.S. Army as it struggles to match Russia's own military build-up in Europe.
The U.S. military is shifting its focus toward preparing for great-power conflict, and on the ground in Europe, where heightened tensions with Russia have a number of countries worried about renewed conflict.
That includes new attention to short-range air-defense — a capability needed against an adversary that could deploy ground-attack aircraft, especially helicopters, and contest control of the air during a conflict.