Head of Army Europe and Africa Wants a New Command for Long-Range Fires

Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA.
Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA, will be an improvement to the latest version of the Paladin self-propelled howitzer that provides indirect fires for the brigade combat team and division-level fight. (U.S. Army)

The head of the newly formed U.S. Army Europe and Africa command said he wants a new fires command to track and destroy long-range enemy targets on both continents.

A theater fires command is among the additional assets Gen. Chistopher Cavoli wants to bring to the region, even as the U.S. put a plan to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany on hold while the Pentagon conducts a long-term review of the move.

Since taking over the consolidated command in October, Cavoli has realized there are advantages to looking at security across the entire hemisphere rather than breaking it up by geographic boundaries, he said.

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As the former commander of U.S. Army Europe, "I had natural relationships with all of our European allies' armies," Cavoli said during an Association of the United States Army event.

"But when some of them would want to discuss their operations or their interests in Africa, I would have to kind of wave that off because that was not my area of responsibility," he said. "Now, it is. Now, I can have that conversation. ... It gives us the opportunity to think hemispherically and think across the entire hemisphere about security."

Creating a theater fires command -- which is in line with the Army's top modernization priority of long-range precision fires -- would "bring an enormous capability" to keep track of potential targets in the region and be ready to destroy them if a conflict arises, Cavoli said.

He did not give a timeline for when or where the new fires command would be created.

Cavoli said he is hopeful that the Army will follow its plan to create a multi-domain task force, or MDTF, in Europe this year, which should include soldiers with specialties to enhance a commander's ability to respond to threats across domains, including intelligence, information operations, electronic warfare, cyber and space.

The Army's first MDTF -- which emerged out of a pilot program -- is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and focused on the Pacific region, Cavoli said.

"The capabilities that the multi-domain task force will bring ... and the expertise it will bring are going to be very, very important to updating where we plan to operate on the European continent and extend that to Africa continent," Cavoli said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related: US Halts Plans to Move 12,000 Troops Out of Germany

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