Speeches and Floor Statements

Congressman Scott Opposes Cutting American Forces from Europe

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Washington, June 14, 2013 | comments
On June 13, Congressman Scott spoke from the House floor in opposition to the Coffman amendment (# 37) to the Defense Authorization bill.  The amendment would end the permanent basing of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) in Vilseck, Germany and return the Brigade Combat Team currently stationed in Europe to the United States, without permanent replacement, leaving one Brigade Combat Team and one Combat Aviation Brigade. The amendment failed by a vote of 110-313 (vote #335).  Congressman Scott made the following remarks.

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2014 -- (House of Representatives - June 13, 2013)

Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Madam Chairman, I rise to claim time in opposition.

The ACTING CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Madam Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

First of all, this is, a very dangerous, dangerous amendment. I am a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I am also the vice chairman of the Science and Technology Committee of NATO. I have been a member of NATO for 11 years. That means I get to travel across the world two or three times each year into this region. I can tell you firsthand that this is a dangerous amendment, it is very dangerous at this time.

Now, you have mentioned about some of our NATO colleagues. And yes, we are having a challenge. Each nation is going through economic challenges. But let me tell you, they are increasing their input and their financial resources each year.

One thing is for certain: the wrong message that we should send to them now and to encourage them to contribute more is for us to cut and run and contribute less, and that's exactly what this amendment that you are offering will do.

The other point as to why it is dangerous is that we would sit here in Congress and force the hand of President Obama--or, for that matter, of any President or future President--to publicly state that he is going to remove a contingent of a brigade like the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany, and then return that brigade to the United States and not put anything in its place. Europe and the Mediterranean and the Middle East--there is no more volatile, unpredictable place on this planet. At the same time, there is no place on this planet that we have the strength of alliances as we have here.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. COFFMAN. I think we both have experience in NATO. You serve on this parliamentary committee, and I served in the United States Army in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in the very type of unit that we are talking about today.

That unit was designed to defend the border between what was West Germany and Czechoslovakia against Warsaw Pact forces that were on the other side. That border no longer exists. The Warsaw Pact no longer exists. Yet we still maintain a regiment there, which is not an expeditionary unit, to do the very things that you're talking about. We also have the capability to move our forces when needed over there.

When I was in Europe during the height of the Cold War, protecting the very border in the same units that we are talking about today, we did the Reforger exercise on an annual basis in which U.S. forces would come over to Europe, in about the middle of western Germany, to reinforce our positions and to push those Warsaw Pact forces back.

Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Will the gentleman yield 10 seconds?

Mr. COFFMAN. I yield to the gentleman.

Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Even today, yes, you are absolutely right; but what did they do in Europe when we asked them to stand with us in Afghanistan? They stood with us. What did they do when we asked in Iraq? All I am simply saying is that we have an obligation today and in the future.

Mr. COFFMAN. I reclaim my time.

There is nothing in the NATO charter that says we have to maintain permanent bases in Europe. I certainly support rotational forces. I support our involvement and our obligations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but it doesn't say we need to have a unit that is not an expeditionary force in the middle of Europe protecting a border that no longer exists.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. I yield 2 minutes to my dear friend, the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Mike Turner.
Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Madam Chair, how much time do I have remaining?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Georgia has 1 minute remaining.

Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. I would like to say this very quickly.

How things have changed. Messages that go out from this floor go out around the world. As we speak, just at our most recent NATO meeting, we were able to get 27 nations out of the 28 nations of NATO to pass a resolution supporting the United States' and Israel's position against Iran's acquiring a nuclear bomb. That's how relevant we are today.

With that, Madam Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Bridenstine).

*You can read remarks and see vote records from the Congressional Record online at: http://beta.congress.gov/ or watch archived floor speeches from C-SPAN online at: http://www.c-span.org/

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Tags: Defense