VICENZA, Italy – Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth wrapped up her first overseas tour this week to U.S. Army Europe and Africa sites in Germany, Poland, and Italy to reinforce U.S. commitment to the NATO Alliance and discuss USAREUR-AF initiatives with senior leaders in the theater.
“We’re continuing to focus on Europe and the importance of NATO and the Alliance, even as we also put more of a focus on the INDOPACOM area of operations,” Wormuth said.
On Oct. 29, Wormuth discussed operational and tactical-level command, control, and planning functions with leadership from the U.S. Southern European Task Force, Africa in Vicenza, Italy.
“The transition of the headquarters organization is really going to enable us to have an Army focus on Africa that I think is really important and helpful,” said Wormuth.
The USAREUR-AF consolidation allows greater synchronization for European-centric issues, such as migration from Africa, as well as Africa-centric issues such as operations with NATO allies on the continent.
Exercising mission command in crisis response from alert and deployment through execution and redeployment requires a trained and ready force that previously existed in concept, but not always in practice said Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling, U.S. Southern European Task Force, Africa commander.
“We’ve changed that, and it was important to show the Army Secretary how important this transition is and what it means for American security interests in Africa and Europe,” said Rohling.
The European and African theaters are inextricably linked; their close geography and economic ties mean that regional security issues span both continents.
“It was very interesting to learn more about how the SETAF-AF has to be able to be responsive as a joint task force and to make sure that we’re able to do short-term crisis contingency operations,” Wormuth said. The 207th Military Intelligence Brigade showcased their methods for intelligence analysis, collection, and exploitation to include some of the newer and smaller, more portable capabilities.
Wormuth also visited the Army’s single largest housing investment – Vicenza’s Army Family Housing-Construction program, valued at $373 million – to gain insight on the project’s details and timelines to build nearly 500 new homes in the next five years.
Earlier in the week, Wormuth traveled to Munich where Bavarian governor Markus Söder presented Gen. Christopher Cavoli, USAREUR-AF Commanding General with a streamer as a symbol of strong transatlantic ties between Bavaria and USAREUR-AF for over 75 years.
In Wiesbaden, she met with USAREUR-AF leadership to discuss the capabilities of the recently activated 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force.
The task force integrates Army assets to overcome adversary anti-access and area denial tactics through integration and synchronization of a variety of capabilities.
While in Grafenwöhr, Germany, Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and 41st Field Artillery Brigade shared their lessons learned with newly fielded equipment and how training with allies and partners is improving NATO interoperability.
Wormuth was able to see several High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) which will be able to fire Precision Strike Missiles (PrSm), long-range strategic fires munitions.
The 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, a subordinate unit under the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, was the first battalion in the Army to test, the Mobile Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD).
“This will be able to protect our light infantry,” Wormuth said. “Germany was one of the first countries to receive that for us.”
She had the chance to observe the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s Bayonet Ready exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center while in Hohenfels, Germany.
Col. Michael Kloepper, 173rd Airborne Brigade commander, said there is no more appropriate place for the Secretary of the Army to meet the 173rd Airborne Brigade than on an artillery live fire range during a brigade collective training density.
“We coach at all levels that for leaders to understand reality, they need to leave the office and troop the line and talk to Soldiers and it was pretty great to see the same from our most senior civilian policy makers,” Kloepper said.
The 173rd “Sky Soldiers” even showed Wormuth how to shoot an M777 howitzer.
On Oct. 28, Wormuth met with Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Błaszczak in Warsaw, Poland, and reinforced the U.S. and Polish shared commitment to NATO’s defense and deterrence mission.
In Poznan, Poland, she engaged with leaders of V Corps and the 1st Infantry Division Forward to discuss the accomplishments of 6,000 U.S. Army Soldiers supporting Atlantic Resolve in its mission to enhance allies and partners interoperability in joint and multinational training and readiness across Europe.
“I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to be with our personnel in Germany, Poland, and Italy,” said Wormuth. “It’s just really impressive to see the range of what our personnel are doing.”