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US Army Borrows British Helicopters Amid Budget Cuts

Apache helicopters
Apache helicopters / AP
• October 19, 2015 1:56 pm

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Budget cuts have forced U.S. military forces in Europe to borrow British helicopters and use equipment from other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members during training exercises.

The cutbacks have adversely impacted U.S. forces in Europe even as Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and now in Syria have demanded U.S. attention there. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Army’s commander in Europe, said that the British helicopters has been "essential," according to the New York Times.

"I don’t have bridges, I don’t have the trucks that can carry tanks, we don’t have enough helicopters to do what we need to do," Hodges stated. "Practicing with British helicopters here is an essential part of it. Using British and German bridges, using Hungarian air defense is part of it."

The Army has endured significant budget cuts over the past several years, resulting in less resources and declining troop levels. The number of U.S. soldiers permanently stationed in Europe has been reduced from 40,000 in 2012 to 26,000 today.

According to Hodges, the military does not have the "intelligence capacity to do what we need to do" and Russian action in Ukraine and Syria therefore "surprised" him, the Telegraph reported.

"We don’t have that many Russian speakers anymore," Hodges said. "I personally have been surprised by every single snap exercise and when they went into Syria. We just do not have the capability to see and track what they’re doing the way they used to."

 The current number of troops permanently stationed in Europe is about 12 percent of the 213,000 operating there at the end of the Cold War in 1990.
"The mission’s still the same," Hodges said. "So we have to figure out how you make 30,000 feel like 300,000."

Published under: Army, Military, Russia, Syria