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US Forces May Stay Longer in Europe

AFP reports:
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

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Pamela on :

Joerg, I can't speak for all the locales that have been impacted by the decisions of the Base Realignment Commission, but here in the Holy City of Alexandria, the local politicos have been tearing their hair and rending their garments. They want to relocate about 20,00 more people at Ft. Belvoir. That will have a huge impact on the infrastructure, traffic, schools, etc. They're trying to slow it down - and I imagine that is having a catepiller effect - backing things up all down the line. just sayin'

joe on :

The reasons stated for delaying the draw down are just so much noise. One would expect this from new commanders who are losing their forces. Besides nothing listed is something that NATO cannot address. In fact, it would appear none of these issues are of great concern to the Germans. There is a very logical explanation for this. It is construction. As an example at Fort Benning bids for 240 million in construction have just been awarded. This is to build a bridge complex. This complex is on a compressed schedule of 961 days. There are also another 160 million dollars for ranges, classrooms, motor pools, etc pending award. This second set of contracts are to support the move of the armor school from Fort Knox to Fort Benning freeing space for both units from Pamela’s area and Germany to fall in on Fort Knox. BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) will go on as approved. This will include the reduction of US forces in Europe. There are massive construction projects on going at all major CONUS bases to implement BRAC. As these projects are completed units will move, realigned, activated, and deactivated in accordance with the force structure used to support the BRAC recommendations. The current FY08 DOD budget pending before Congress includes construction funding to support the relocation of units from Germany. The current SECDEF, CINC EUCON, and CINC USAREU will have little meaningful impact on delaying the draw down of US forces in Europe. The decisions made about the future of the force not only impacted basing/deployment but also force structure, procurement and R&D. The one reason, which might slow this process significantly, is how quickly and to what degree the Army ramps up it total end strength but this is outside of the preview of EUCOM and USAREU. EUCOM will become just another unified command with an AOR (Area of Responsibility) for Central Europe. What will be interesting is how this plays out within NATO. Still with only the 173 in Italy and the Stryker Bridge, the US will have more effective combat power than the remainder of NATO combined less France and the UK. What I look forward to is the next BRAC round which will take a much harder look at the USN and USAF in Europe. Should be interesting.

Joerg on :

Interesting. Thanks, Joe "EUCOM will become just another unified command with an AOR (Area of Responsibility) for Central Europe." This still sounds like a lot. Why have a EUCOM at all, if the US is so disappointed by its allies? Germany, Britain, France do not have a "USCOM" to defend the US. So why should the US have an EUCOM? My guess: To pursue US interests on the European continent and the nearby regions. Fine, fair enough. The only thing that annoys me from time to time is the suggestion that US forces are deployed in Europe for the sole benefit of us Europeans, i.e US altruism to promote freedom and democracy etc.

Zyme on :

Joerg - Ich kann nicht glauben was ich hier lese. Hört hört - würde ich voll und ganz unterschreiben.

joe on :

Jorg, The AOR for EUCOM is not really that big when compared to the other unified commands. Here think PACCOM, AFCOM, or SouthCom all of which have AOR's larger than EUCOM. You raise a very interesting question about why have a EUCOM at all. Do not confuse the stationing of forces and the responsibility of a unified command. The purpose of a unified command is to conduct operations in a particular AOR. Most unified command have few forces assigned to them or under their command and control. When they need forces they task the services to provide them. EUCOM is really not very different than the joint command structure one finds in the Germany or British Military. The only difference is it is deployed and one of many for the US. As to why say the Europeans do not have a USCOM, I think the simple answer is they lack the capability to project forces. The reality is without land lines of communication Europe cannot project forces anywhere. This of course assumes they actually have the forces to project. In the case of Germany a political decision has been made not to have these forces. Maybe your question should not have been about why have a EUCOM but why have US forces based in Europe and in Germany. The latest BRAC addresses some of that issue by moving forces from Germany to CONUS. I think we would both agree the need to have US forces in Europe ended with the end of the Cold War. Europe is both capable and wants to assume its own protection. Therefore the Germany MoD white paper needs to be more honest in its conclusions.

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg-If the US is merely pursuing its own interests then when did that state of affairs begin? Certainly not during the summer of 1945 which would take a leap of faith in Germany's revival far beyond the ability of any politician to foresee? Or 1948 during the Berlin Air Lift, unless the British, French and American pilots were also secretly selling Amana stoves hidden in the bags of foodstuffs? Or as late as 1961 when the Wall was completed and recall notices went out to USN retirees for duty in Europe? Are you really sugggesting that the trillions of dollars the citizens of the US gave out and paid was merely to protect Microsoft and Madonna? Even Charles DeGaulle admitted that it was better to have the Americans in Europe than at bases in California and Texas while dozens of Soviet tank and infantry divisions sat just across the border in Poland and Czechoslovakia. It's easy to see in hindsight some master plan developed in the boardrooms of American companies. But the reality was that the US overarching strategic goal of resisting Soviet advances and securing a peaceful and nonthreatening Germany was based on the tactical knowledge that a lot of American servicemen would die with their allies in case of war.

Joerg on :

US and West German interests were aligned during the Cold War. I am sure we can agree that US national security rather than charity work was the main motivation for the trillions of dollars spent and the many lives risked during the Cold War. Question for you: Do you think the US could have enhanced national security, promoted its superpower and leader of the free world status and defeated the Soviet Union WITHOUT protecting West-Germany during the Cold War? "Even Charles DeGaulle admitted that it was better to have the Americans in Europe than at bases in California and Texas" But he was opposed to any US bases in France...

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg=Of course Pres. DeGaulle was opposed to American bases on French soil after the war but he certainly didn't mind tens of thousands of American and British servicemen on the soil and in the sky over its once enemy Germany. As to leaving Germany out of a Cold War alliance then I would simply point to a map to show how many ice free ports would suddenly have become available to a very large new fraternal Russian military presence in the former Federal Republic. Another question could be to ask how many European nations including Germany at any time did little more than posture for domestic political advantage and advocate a serious proposal for the US to withdraw from continenetal Europe? It's tough to leave a party early, even if the food is terrible, when you are the guest of honor. The immediate tactical position of Europe and the US would be have become untenable. Russian ships could now roam freely in the North Atlantic and the North Sea while the Baltic Sea would be a Russian lake. And in twenty to twenty five years a reunified and reunited Germany would be capable military ally of the Soviet Union but after years of propaganda would gladly attack those nations that had humiliated Germany twice in one century (see any official history of the NKDPR for examples). I suppose you're argument is that the US benefitted from this arrangement which I would agree but I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea that, especially considering Europe exports more to the US then vice versa, that somehow current US policy is at the service of American business interests. Or do I read too much into your original statement?

Joerg on :

1.) You are supporting my point with your reference to ice-free ports, right? 2.) Of course, (West) Germany and other European countries benefited tremendously from the United States for nearly a century. I am not forgetting this for instance: http://atlanticreview.org/archives/65-The-forgotten-US-relief-operations-in-Europe-during-and-after-World-War-I.html 3.) I think we agree on the basics. You write: "I suppose you're argument is that the US benefitted from this arrangement which I would agree" US and German interests were aligned during the Cold War: What was good for America, was usually good for Germany as well. Of course, there were differences: I don't know, but I assume that Reagan and many Americans thought that they were extremely altruistic by stationing Pershings etc in Germany, while many Germans disagreed. 4.) I cannot follow your logic here: "I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea that, especially considering Europe exports more to the US then vice versa, that somehow current US policy is at the service of American business interests." What's your point? The US is promoting European business interests? No, of course, US policy is at the service of American business interests. The fact that EU exports to the US are bigger than vice versa, just means that the EU companies are currently more successful (and/or it means that European consumers are too poor to buy US products). If student A gets better grades than student B, it does not necessarily mean that student A has been studying more hours. 5.) The only reason I brought up US motivations is that I got the impression that many Americans (especially the media) insinuate that US foreign policy is charity work: Promoting freedom and democracy and human rights around the world. Yes, the US is often trying all this, but only when this serves US interests. And not always successfully. This not evil. This is what states do. And it does not require rocket science to come to that conclusion. US patriotism (some would say "propaganda"), however, is so strong, that quite a few Americans (not you) insinuate or claim that the main purpose of US foreign policy is to help the world all the time. That's why Americans exaggerate for instance the amount of foreign aid the US spends. And that's why many Americans applauded George Bush when he said during his second inauguration: "Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." Is America "standing with" the monks in Burma, the dissidents in Saudi Arabia, China, Belarus, Pakistan etc? Or is America just pursuing Realpolitik like all other countries?

Badboy Recovered on :

Jesus Christ! Can we just leave and be done with all this already!

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