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European Military Bases on High Alert Signal Global Threats

US bases in Europe taking heightened security precautions on chatter about potential attacks.

US military bases have just been placed on the second-highest level of alert for the first time in ten years. Threats to US personnel stationed overseas, specifically in Europe, are at a high state of vigilance for terrorist and other hostile attacks. US European Command (USEUCOM) placed multiple US military bases on Force Protection Condition (FPCON) “Charlie” in anticipation of potential danger. Germany, where the United States has 119 installations and more than 33,500 troops, was among the countries where the alert was focused.

Tensions are building around the globe for a variety of reasons, from China harassing Taiwan to Israel defending itself from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian jihadist militias.  More than 168,000 active-duty American service members residing overseas are potentially in danger. A number of US bases were told on Sunday, June 30, to assume the elevated state of alert and implement the required precautions.

Alert Status Heightened

Among the bases impacted in Europe are USEUCOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany; Rheinland-Phalz garrison, Germany; and Aviano Air Base, Italy, Stars and Stripes reported. What is unique about alert status FPCON Charlie, the US Army webpage explained, is that it “applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely.”

However, the threat was not specific. At a Pentagon press corps briefing on Monday, July 1, Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters that no single threat prompted the elevation of the FPCON:

“As you can appreciate, I won’t speak to intelligence matters, but due to a combination of factors and not related to a single threat, but it was due to a combination of factors potentially impacting the safety and security of service members stationed in the European theater … This was done out of an abundance of caution.”

There are numerous terrorist targets of opportunity this summer. In France, the surprising shift to the political right among French voters has caused passions to soar for those who demand more government control. Large protests have occurred in Paris over the recent parliamentary elections, in which the National Rally party won the first round. For the Summer Olympics being held in Paris, the fans and competitors present a target-rich environment. In 1972, at the Munich Summer Olympics, 11 members of the Israeli team and five Black September Palestinian terrorists were killed. ISIS, remnants of al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, among others, are not above similar terrorist attacks in 2024. When radical Islamic jihadist fervor is running high, the lengths to which terrorists will go are unpredictable.

Another potential perpetrator of a terrorist operation is Russia. Though less likely, The New York Times reported, “American defense officials raised the security alert level at military bases in Europe over the weekend in response to vague threats from the Kremlin over Ukraine’s use of long-range weapons on Russian territory, according to US and Western officials.” It explained that Russia has been active in “acts of sabotage in Europe, hoping to disrupt the flow of matériel to Ukraine.”

US Military Members Appealing Targets

When terrorists and other non-state players are active, US citizens and facilities are always appealing soft targets. Such bad actors are more inclined to take advantage of what they perceive as weak US leadership. Currently, the Biden administration has not dealt effectively with Iran and its proxies in the Middle East nor shown resolve in supporting Israel’s conflict with Hamas. The president’s indecisiveness in dealing with Hamas supporters on university campuses emboldens jihadist terrorists worldwide to be more aggressive. US military members and their families stationed in foreign countries are highly visible, convenient, and valuable targets. Raising the awareness of potential dangers is a prudent and timely measure.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliate.

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