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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said partnerships with European allies are even more critical as countries on both sides of the Atlantic transition out of the combat mission in Afghanistan and look to downsize their forces in light of ongoing fiscal constraints. Speaking to reporters after two days of defense ministerial meetings in Brussels, Hagel said he “made clear [his] conviction to buy readiness and to buy capability and combat power with the savings the United States military achieves through a smaller force. We expect NATO allies to do the same thing.” Hagel added that now is a time to “set priorities, to make difficult choices, and to reinvest in the key capabilities.” Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, told the Daily Report the European allies are closely watching to see what a US rebalance to the Pacific will look like and how it will affect operations in the European theater. He said the US remains committed to the European theater even though partnership capacity went down in Fiscal 2013 due to the sequester. “That discussion was already going on and when we didn’t engage as often as we did before it caused a couple of double takes on our partners part to see what the real US side of the transatlantic alliance meant to the relationship between the US and European countries,” he said. (Hagel transcript)