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July 21, 2020

ICYMI: Inhofe Speaks on Senate Floor on Administration Plan for U.S. Military Presence in Europe

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today about President Trump’s plans for U.S. military presence in Europe.


As Prepared for Delivery:

Earlier today I mentioned that I would be coming down to the floor to talk about our troop basing in Germany.

Along with other Members of Congress, I will be receiving detailed briefings from the Department of Defense on plans to carry out the President’s decision in the coming days and weeks.

But based on my conversations with Secretary Esper and in the briefings I’ve received so far, the goal is to optimize our force posture in Europe, in part by moving some of our forces along NATO’s eastern flank. 

Going forward, as I think about the plan to realign our posture in Europe, I am thinking about the three guiding principles I call the “3 Fs”:

Forward presence – Maintaining a strong presence in Europe that gives our troops what they need to deter Russia and, if necessary, fight and win. I like the idea of rotational forces in South East Europe.

Force projection – Keeping strong, established bases for staging, air capacity, and more. We have that at Ramstein Air Base, and we’ve invested quite a lot in it. I like that the plan keeps these vital capabilities and resources.

Families – Looking out for the families, and ensuring they have certainty.

The plan I’ve seen gives families certainty and phases the major movements over months and years to make sure we have the necessary military construction and infrastructure in place. 

Military families make a lot of sacrifices. Every few years, our military families move around the country and around the world.

They change hometowns. They change houses. They change doctors. Their kids change schools. And of course, they live with the reality that their service member is putting their life on the line to defend our country.

We must be grateful, and never take that sacrifice for granted. That’s why in everything we do, we should be trying to ease the burden on our military families.

So when it comes to this plan for our forces in Europe, it’s more important that we do this right, than right away.

I look forward to learning more about the plan, and continuing conversations with the Department of Defense about how we can get this done right.

President Trump and Secretary Esper are on the right track, and I am pleased the “3 Fs” are being followed.

If that goal sounds familiar to you – it probably is, because this is something I’ve been pushing since 2003 with General Jones when he was EUCOM commander and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

About that time, we had some issues at our bases in Germany. We also had new strategic opportunities to deepen our relationships with eastern European allies.

So Gen. Jones and I visited some key allies in the region in August of 2003 – Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania and talked about what was called the lily-pad approach to basing.

This means a greater number of smaller, well-positioned bases that would increase our reach, reassure our allies and pressure our adversaries. Sound familiar?

I fought that with then-President Bush to make this possible time and time again and he wouldn’t go for it. Chalk this up to something else President Trump and Secretary Esper are doing what no one else could. 

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