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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs and Related Agencies – convened a hearing with General Curtis Scaparrotti – Commander, United States European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe – this week to discuss the risks and challenges that are prevalent throughout the European Command area of responsibility, including Russia’s involvement in political elections and moving forward with plans for the Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe at Royal Air Force Croughton.

At the hearing, Sen. Moran questioned General Scaparrotti on the European Reassurance Initiative, which may require additional military construction to play an important role in optimizing the U.S. military presence and readiness in Central and Eastern Europe.  Sen. Moran also had the privilege of welcoming to the hearing Army War College students who were selected for the Carlisle Scholars Program and represent 17 military partner nations.  

Click here to watch the hearing. 

Highlights can be found below:

Sen. Moran (1:40): “And what's changed in regard to Russia's efforts? Has there been a consequence of our reassurance efforts in a response from Russia in how we would've expected them to behave or how they're changing their behavior?”

Gen. Scaparrotti (1:56): “Well, I think if you look at their stated response, they recognize what we're doing. I think they are concerned about the changes that we have made in the United States in terms of the rotational forces that we've now put in, what NATO has done with enhanced forward presence. It has their attention. I think their response is one to say that they are deterred by that. They have recognized it. They have said publicly that they're making adjustments in their western border, and in the Baltic and Black Sea as a result of that. So I think that's the response that I look for. I wish we had a crystal ball; we could see clearly the cognitive impact on the regime in Russia. But I can't say that clearly at this point.”

Sen. Moran (2:45): “How do we know we’re in the position that we need to be – that our allies feel reassured – and those that we oppose for their actions feel constrained?”

Gen. Scaparrotti (3:10): “Senator, that's really the tough question. I mean we look at it…we're in a deterrence posture now and determining how we assess the effectiveness of that deterrence is very difficult. Part of it's because it's a cognitive effect you're trying to have more so than a posture effect. And so it's more difficult…we need to do is we need to stay strong with our allies. We need to ensure with our country and as much as we can with them that we approach this from a whole of government approach. The Russians see this as a whole of society approach. They don't see a differentiation between what they do in the military with respect to their actions; they include diplomatic, economic leverage, et cetera. I think our response has to recognize that as well. And then we need to also…improve our posture, because we need to have a strong front. That's what Russia respects is strength.”

Sen. Moran (4:10): “When we visited in Europe with you earlier this year, we had been to France and Germany, both concerned about intrusion by Russia into their elections. Any update? Any sense of what's going on in that regard?”

Gen. Scaparrotti (4:31): “They both continue to be very concerned about it. France in particular. I think publicly, you saw that France believes they did have some influence, and direct influence, by Russia in terms of who they preferred to see elected. You know there was a relationship there as well in terms of, you know, what we had learned and our ability to help them posture themselves to protect against that. And Germany shares…the same concerns. And there's a number of other elections between now and fall in Europe where, you know, Russia's known to have been directly involved with parties that they can influence or politicians as well.”

Sen. Moran (8:24): “General, this subcommittee has been supportive of the Joint Intelligence Analysis Center at RAF Croughton…There has been some suggestion that it should be built at Lajes Field. Let me ask you to explain to us, if you believe it to be true, why Croughton is the right place to relocate the existing facility?”

Gen. Scaparrotti (8:56): “As you said, the decision was made beforehand, but when I took over, I had assembled our staff. I've…been there. I've visited the NIFC and our jack that's apart of the JIAC. And I took a look at the other available bases. And I think that Croughton is the right place. I think it's correct to have those facilities – the different facilities; they’re six different entities there co-located. What we get here is we get real synergy out of EUCOM, AFRICOM, the NATO, the DIA support apparatus, as well as BICES, which is an intelligence exchange communications system. Those are the six kind of pieces that…make this – we get synergy out of them being in one place. Number two, the challenge today is to make sure we can actually exchange information at…a relevant speed. And today, information moves very quickly, as you know. When you co-locate those, they have an opportunity then to share intel appropriately and very quickly, as well as analyze and discuss issues. This is powerful. And it's particularly important between NATO and the U.S. The other thing I would mention, Senator, is that…for the NATO intelligence center that supports me and Supreme Headquarters Allied Power in Europe under NATO, the framework nation for that intelligence facility is the United States. So what we provide in one site as an U.S. intelligence facility, that support apparatus supports NATO. If it were to be someplace else, we will also have to have the people and the resources at that other place duplicated to support that facility, because we have that commitment within NATO. Secondly, it's all 28 members have to agree on a location, et cetera, which they have done. That within NATO is an important factor here, I think. So I think for several reasons it's actually in a very good facility.

Sen. Moran (11:15): “Let me just ask a little bit further…in your analysis, [are] there any circumstances – either as a matter of being cost effective or of military value that that facility should be located at Lajes Field in Portugal?”

Gen. Scaparrotti (11:29): “No, I don't think so.”