WASHINGTON — Gen. Darryl Williams has been commander of the U.S. Army in Europe and Africa since June 2022, a job that puts him front and center in NATO’s efforts to strengthen the eastern front after the invasion Ukrainian Russian. He spoke to Defense News in late September about his observations on the war and why standardized gunnery training among the allies is all the rage. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
As a member of the ground profession, what is your opinion on the way the war in Ukraine has unfolded?
Like the guy responsible for the coherence of the earth [operations] In Europe, I think things are going quite well, from a NATO perspective, in terms of how we are supporting and training our Ukrainian counterparts. It is probably too early to count all the lessons learned. The US military and NATO armies are learning organizations. And certainly, we will pass on the lessons that we are learning, but I think it is still premature. It’s early in this campaign.
What do I think about it? I am very proud of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And I am very proud of how they conduct themselves and behave. They seem to me, I have met some, not all of them, but they are professionals. I am really impressed by how they are behaving in the land domain.
What do you think of the Germans beating themselves up, or being beaten, for their hesitation in delivering Leopard tanks to the Ukraine?
I have been a great fan of the great country of Germany and have been here since I was a lieutenant in the early 1980s. They remain a strong member of NATO and are doing their part, as are other members.
Some analysts have noted the absence of a significant air component in the development of the war. What do you think about that?
All domains are being challenged, not just land. You may not see that he’s realizing it, but my reading of the battlefield is that all domains are being operated by both sides. Our job as rulers of the earth, so to speak, is to ensure that all of those domains are integrated to have effects on the earth.
Regarding military mobility in Europe, what improvements and setbacks have you seen in the transport of equipment and troops?
As I mentioned, I’ve been here since the early 80’s and have been back on subsequent tours. I have always seen improvements along those routes. We have a few more to go. But I see a lot of interoperability TTPs (techniques, tactics and procedures) being shared across the alliance.
At the 7th Army Training Command in Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels, for example, our allies have the opportunity to come and practice mobility and interoperability. In fact, we just finished an exercise last week where we had a number of allies support our 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in exercise Saber Junction.
I’m on the positive side of where we are in that regard. It’s only going to get better as we continue to participate.
As for upcoming exercises, what would you like to see US Army and allied forces improve on?
What you’re trying to get through the exercises is trust: trust in your own personal team, in your own nation, as well as trust in the team of other nations, trust in each other’s soldiers. And then there is standardization.
We have an exercise that we do here, which was really very nascent when I was here a few years ago, called Dynamic Front. It was as big as ever last year, and it’s going to be bigger next year. As you can see, in the fight that is going on right now, the artillery is in the lead in a very, very big way. Dynamic Front allows us to get to standardization across the alliance and how we best standardize fires, ensuring that we can be there for fire support.
What came out of your recent talks with the Swedish and Finnish army leaders?
It was really about charting the way forward and looking for opportunities for mutual engagement, interoperability and standardization as they are aspiring NATO members. It was about improving on what we’ve already done for some time and then talking about potentially strengthening those relationships as we go.
The unique skill set they bring is arctic training. And potentially there is an opportunity for our own Army units with that specialty, like the 10th Mountain Division, to link up and continue to train together in that regard.
Sebastian Sprenger is Associate Editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region and on US-European cooperation and multinational investments in global defense and security. He previously served as the managing editor of Defense News. It is headquartered in Cologne, Germany.