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Deutsche Welle : Pentagon Wants More Freedom of Movement for American Armies in Europe

Commander of US forces in Europe wants a “military Schengen zone” to make it easier for NATO and American troops to move from one country into another

With an unverifiable number of Russian soldiers preparing to practice war against fictional Western countries in so-called “Zapad” exercises, the US general in charge of the US military in Europe, Ben Hodges, recently spoke with DW about the differences between his ability to summon forces quickly and that of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“[Putin] is able to move a lot of stuff real fast which is what got my attention and made me start thinking, how do we achieve at least the same speed that he has,” Hodges explained. Previous Zapad drills, which are held every four years, honed the Russian ability to launch the massive “snap exercises” seen ahead of the invasion of Crimea in 2014, and earlier, the aggression against Georgia in 2008.

When Hodges, on the other hand, wants to move tanks or other heavy vehicles and weaponry across Europe, he needs to stop at every national – sometimes regional – border and deal with unique controls.

“I think most people would be astounded to find out what we have to do,” he said, “to submit a list of all the vehicles, the drivers, what’s in every truck – which they don’t do with gigantic commercial trucks moving back and forth across borders.”

He says in many European countries, it takes weeks to get the permission to move through. In Germany, every state requires its own procedure.

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