Two of the four US combat brigades left in Europe were supposed to move to US bases over the next year, but General Bantz Craddock, the commander of US forces in Europe, has recommended postponing the move by about a year. [Secretary of Defense] Gates "is inclined to embrace the concept of leaving two of them there for a time longer than originally anticipated," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. Craddock had recommended the slowdown in withdrawing the troops, saying more forces were needed for "security theater engagement," Whitman added. The plan is seen as a "short term solution" to a troop crunch in Europe, but it also indicates the US military is having second thoughts about a two-year-old plan to scale back its presence in Europe.Stars and Stripes:
[U.S. Army Europe commander Gen. David] McKiernan said two weeks ago at the Pentagon that he wanted to keep four combat brigades not two in Germany. Specifically, he wanted to keep the Schweinfurt, Germany-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division; the Baumholder, Germany-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division; the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Italy; and the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment from Vilseck, Germany. He cited a resurgent Russia, a potential for violence in Kosovo and unresolved energy issues near the Caspian Sea Basin as among very valid reasons to be forward-present in Europe.
McKiernan said he believed the Army should keep about 40,000 troops in Europe, down from 43,000 now stationed there. That's some 20,000 fewer than there were three years ago and some 16,000 more than the plan for Europe envisioned when it was announced in 2003. Gen. Bantz Craddock previously said that even with current troop strength it was difficult to fulfill European Command missions.
Commentary from Atlantic Review on this matter in the post: Reductions of US Troops in Europe Could Impede US Operations