U.S. top commander in Europe wants more resources, forces to deter Russia

WIESBADEN, Germany (Reuters) - The senior U.S. general in Europe on Thursday said he was seeking more troops, spy planes and other resources to maintain U.S. military superiority and deter Russia as Moscow presses ahead with a modernization of its military.

FILE PHOTO - Commander of the U.S. European Command Curtis M. Scaparrotti speaks during his presentation for Finnish National Defence Course Association in Helsinki, Finland August 9, 2017. Lehtikuva/Mikko Stig via REUTERS

General Curtis Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, said deterrence of Russia was one of his central tasks.

Resources currently focused on counter-terrorism may need to be redirected, Scaparrotti told reporters after a meeting with chiefs of defense from across Europe.

“In terms of the force each of our domains, there are additions that I need,” he said.

Boosting U.S. forces in specific air, land and sea areas “would help me do a better job of deterring Russian and set us in a better place to understand how Russia operates,” he said.

Scaparrotti said the U.S. military had enough airborne early warning and control aircraft in Europe, but he had requested other additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance planes given the terrain and other specific needs.

The general said he spoke with other military leaders about the need to better coordinate their counter-terrorism efforts to free up resources that could be used to respond to growing challenges posed by Russia and China.

“We’ve got a lot of resources focused on counter-terrorism and some of these resources are going to have to shift,” he said.

The military meeting capped three days of political and military discussions at the U.S. Army’s headquarters in Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, to focus on changing threats, progress on information-sharing, and efforts to better coordinate among their respective government agencies.

Scaparrotti said improved information-sharing within the U.S. government and among allies in Europe over the past year had helped authorities thwart many potential attacks.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Angus MacSwan