Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Army’s commander in Europe, told Defense News in an interview last week in Poland during its national military exercise Anakonda, that “I have zero rocket launchers. I have no [Multiple Rocket Launcher System launch pods], no HIMARS, nothing. The only HIMARS we have is a National Guard unit that came over for the exercise.”
Artillery and long-range fires capabilities fell by the wayside while the US Army focused on fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hodges explained, when less emphasis was placed on those capabilities in order to focus on brigades. “I can just tell you the fact that we went down to two brigades, two brigades total in Europe, with no fires brigade because Russia was our partner,” he said.
Russia is no longer a partner and a conflict with the country would mean a need for a strong fires capability. But it's an uphill battle getting those requirements in Europe filled, according to Hodges, because convincing Congress to bring over a fires brigade to Europe as the Army shrinks would not be easy.
While the Army may not be buying new HIMARS systems anytime soon, Hodges said his command will be getting a fires brigade worth of equipment to be kept in Army Prepositioned Stock for rotational forces. “That will help address the concern in case of a crisis,” he said. He estimates that will be put in place within the next three years.