Wicker Asks Military Nominee About NATO Priorities

Presumptive European Commander Calls for Additional Destroyers, End to Sequestration

April 2, 2019

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today attended a hearing to consider the nomination of Gen. Tod Wolters to lead the United States European Command (EUCOM) and to be the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

Wicker reiterated Chairman James Inhofe’s comments on Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 air and missile defense systems in defiance of other NATO allies’ concerns that the systems would compromise their national security.

“I will echo that the acquisition by a NATO ally of the S-400 is not the action that one would expect from an ally and it calls a lot of things into question,” Wicker said.

In his questions to the nominees, Wicker asked Gen. Wolters if he agreed with calls to station two additional destroyers at the U.S. base in Rota, Spain. Last month, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the outgoing Commander of EUCOM, told Wicker that he would need “greater capacity, particularly given the modernization and growth of the Russian fleets in Europe.”

Gen. Wolters said, “It is my belief that we will need a fleet that possesses the capability to cover more time and cover more distance. I suspect that’s going to require two additional destroyers, per the conversation I have had with Gen. Scaparrotti.”

Wicker also asked Gen. Wolters about the damaging effects of sequestration on the military.

“I don’t know if our listeners and viewers out there in the general public understand, but unless the statute is changed, we go back to sequestration,” Wicker said.

“Is disaster a strong enough word to describe what that would mean if we do not take action and actually change the law?,” Wicker continued.

“Sequestration would dramatically impair our readiness,” Gen. Wolters said.