European edition, Wednesday, July 25, 2007

STUTTGART, Germany — Pentagon leaders are weighing recommendations in a classified report that could lead to stopping the drawdown of U.S. troops in Europe.

The report was a troop-to-task analysis prepared for Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, commander of the U.S. European Command. Upon Craddock’s approval of its contents, the report was delivered June 26 to the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others.

Cmdr. Joseph A. Surette, a Washington-based spokesman for EUCOM, said Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Peter Pace, and others would use the report to decide if Craddock has the right number and types of troops in Europe to carry out EUCOM’s missions.

It’s in the hands of the office of the secretary of defense, Surette said. “When leadership makes a decision on what course to take, they’ll make that announcement.”

On Friday, Pace, speaking to an open house of soldiers and soldiers’ spouses in Schweinfurt, Germany, confirmed that previously announced plans to decrease troop levels in Europe were being re-evaluated.

“Obviously, here in Germany if we were to want to either maintain the current size or increase it, we would want to have that discussion with the German government and get in agreement with them,” Pace said.

“Right now, I can tell you for sure that we (Gates, Pace, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey) are looking at the future lay-down of forces globally and [asking], ‘Does it make sense to continue to draw down in Europe, or does it make sense to stop the drawdown?’”

Maj. John Dorrian, a Stuttgart-based spokesman for EUCOM, declined to provide Stars and Stripes with the recommendations from the report, saying the report was for internal Pentagon use and classified.

“(The report) provides detailed information about future missions, about our relationships with other countries, about threats,” Dorrian said.

Dorrian added that there was no timeline for the Pentagon to react or act on the contents of the report, which analyzed, among other things, if there were enough U.S. troops based in Europe for Craddock to carry out his missions.

There are about 100,000 active-duty troops based in Europe. The Army has the largest share — about 45,000 soldiers, down from about 62,000 in 2004.

Until told otherwise, the Army is moving forward with its plans to close U.S. installations and move soldiers back to the U.S. or elsewhere.

“We will continue to move forward with that plan unless otherwise directed by (the Department of the Army) and EUCOM,” said Bruce Anderson, an Army in Europe spokesman.

In December, Craddock became commander of NATO’s combined forces as well as the top officer in EUCOM just as the U.S. military was amid moving many of its Europe-based forces back to the U.S.

In March, Craddock told the House Armed Services Committee he was concerned he might not have enough troops to carry out EUCOM’s top priorities: working effectively with partner nations, and waging war if necessary in his area of responsibility.

The concern was exacerbated, he said, by the ongoing rotation of Europe-based troops into the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have very little capacity left after we source the global force pool, if you will, for these ongoing [EUCOM missions],” Craddock said in March.

“We try to shape the environment for the future. And that’s by engagement, that’s by theater security cooperation — not assistance, but we cooperate. We send our forces and they cooperate and train and exercise with partner nations.

“Our ability to do that now is limited because we don’t have the forces available since they are in the rotation to the other [missions],” he said.

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