RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – On the eve of his departure as Commander of the US Air Force in Europe, General Roger Brady remains a staunch supporter of a strong US military presence in Europe, despite calls from some US lawmakers to reduce this footprint in order to reduce a growing defense budget. .
Working with European allies helps build partnerships that reap rewards in war and peace, Brady said, citing the support of more than three dozen European countries in the war in Afghanistan. These alliances cannot be forged from a distance, he said in a recent interview at USAFE headquarters.
“You do it by being here,” he said, sitting in his office at Ramstein Air Base.
Brady, 64, has been in command of the USAFE since January 2008, in what is said to be his last posting in a decorated Air Force career dating back more than 40 years.
He was expected to hang up his uniform now.
The Air Force announced nearly a year ago that Brady would retire in early January, appointing Lt. Gen. Mark Welsh III as his successor. The Senate confirmed Welsh, the CIA’s senior air force officer, for promotion to general last year.
But on Friday, there was still no word on Brady’s retirement date.
The retirements of general officers must be approved by the air force, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the office of the secretary of defense and, finally, by the president, said Beth Gosselin , spokesperson for the Air Force at the Pentagon. She couldn’t tell where Brady’s retirement fell in that chain of approval.
“It’s a process and this process takes time,” Gosselin said Friday.
Meanwhile, Brady continues to continue to stress the importance of keeping U.S. military bases in Europe, as some U.S. politicians clamor for more U.S. troops overseas.
“I don’t think we should spend the money to have troops in Germany 65 years after WWII,” Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, said recently. “We have a terrible deficit and we must reduce.”
Frank and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, are leading a congressional effort to save an estimated $ 1,000 billion in military spending by dramatically reducing the US military’s commitments abroad, including in Europe.
“The nations of Western Europe now collectively have more resources than we do, but they continue to rely heavily on American taxpayers for their defense”; Frank and Paul wrote in an article first published this summer in the Huffington Post.
But Brady is focused on building relationships on the continent, efforts he says resulted in European countries supporting them when the United States needed it most. in Afghanistan.
Of the 46 countries involved in the war in Afghanistan, 39 are from Europe, Brady said, contributing about 39,000 of the more than 119,000 troops serving in Afghanistan.
“I think it’s huge,” he said.
And, while the Cold War may be over, the nature of future conflicts is unpredictable, Brady said.
“If you’re going to war … or if you’re going to do humanitarian operations with people, you train with them,” Brady says.
“When we go to war, we go to war with our European allies. They are our most reliable partners. “
Brady said the United States’ footprint in Europe is much smaller than it has been in the past. Currently, more than 25,000 active-duty members are assigned to the USAFE, spread over nine wings, seven fighter squadrons and eight bases. There were over 32,000 airmen in Europe 10 years ago.
The USAFE funds its military partnership activities through the United States European Command. Most partnerships are established “as a natural result” through combined training and exercises, said USAFE officials, mainly led by forces stationed at the front in Europe.
“The mission is not going to go away,” Brady said. “The mission of maintaining access to three continents, the issue of allowing our allies… none of that changes. We really can’t do it efficiently with less.