March 6 (UPI) -- More U.S. maritime military power is required in Europe to counter threats from Russia, the chief of the U.S. European Command told a Senate committee.
Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti called for two more destroyers to supplement the four vessels stationed in Spain, a heightened aircraft carrier presence and a "better pace" of deployment of carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups. He spoke at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.
"We're looking at an evolving and modernizing Russian fleet," Scaparrotti said. "If we want to remain dominant in the maritime domain in particular the undersea, which we are today, we have got to continue to modernize and continue to build capacity."
NATO's land forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance also need to be modernized to address challenges from Russia, he said.
Scaparrotti noted that logistical challenges have increased since NATO added additional Eastern European countries near and adjacent to Russia's western border. They included different railroad gauges, conditions of airports and highway use of military transport vehicles. A $7 billion commitment by the European Union to improve infrastructure issues must also be spent wisely, he said.
Further details regarding Scaparrotti's suggestions for improvement are expected in closed-door committee hearings on Wednesday.
Addressing the issue of a proposed purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system by Turkey, a NATO member, Scaparrotti said, "My best military advice would be we don't follow through with the the F-35," a reference to a potential sale of sophisticated U.S. fighter planes to Turkey.
Vice President Mike Pence made a similar point about the potential Turkish purchase two weeks ago at a Munich security conference, and in 2018 Lockheed-Martin, the prime contractor of the F-35, said the cost of individual aircraft would not rise significantly if Turkey was not a purchaser.
The National Defense Strategy, a paper released by the Pentagon in 2018, offered advice similar to Scaparrotti's.
The document directed the U.S. military to turn its attention more toward Russia and China, instead of focusing primarily on Islamist militants and "rogue" countries. That blueprint differed from a 2014 strategy, released before Russia's involvement in the Syrian civil war and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.