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President Bush this week will announce plans to pull up to 70,000 U.S. troops out of Europe and Asia as part of a massive overhaul of U.S. forces overseas, according to a White House official.

Bush is expected to announce the changes Monday at a campaign speech to the Convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati.

Currently, there are about 106,000 active-duty military members based in Europe.

About 70,000 of them are stationed in Germany, which is expected to take the lion’s share of cuts, the official said. More than 15,000 U.S. troops based in Europe currently are deployed to Iraq, with an additional 15,000 having just returned from combat duty.

Another 100,000 troops are based in the Pacific, with main troop hubs in South Korea, Okinawa and mainland Japan.

“Next week, the president will be talking about new initiatives regarding the military,” the White House official said. The initiatives, the aide said, are designed to “improve our capability to defend ourselves and our allies while easing the burden on the military and their families.”

First Armored Division and 1st Infantry Division — which form the bulk of the Army’s some 60,000 troops in Europe — are expected to relocate to the States as part of the overhaul. As part of the restructuring, some 100,000 family members and Defense Department civilians will return to the States as well, the White House official said.

Remaining forces in Europe are expected to be consolidated around the Ramstein military hub in western Germany and the Army’s sophisticated training ranges in the Bavarian region of southeastern Germany.

A mobile infantry force equipped with the new light-armored Stryker vehicles is expected to be assigned to Grafenwöhr, Germany, where the Army is building facilities for a brigade-sized unit. Aviano Air Base in northern Italy also is expected to play a greater role for both Army and Air Force units.

Meanwhile, the Navy’s European headquarters, located in London since the World War II, will be moved to Naples, which already is home to 6th Fleet, according to a report Saturday in London’s Financial Times.

Naval Forces Europe spokesman Capt. Gordon Hume, reached last week, wouldn’t comment on any pending plans for the Navy.

U.S. European Commander Marine Gen. James Jones has proposed under his “transformation plan” that those units cut from the permanent rolls in Western Europe would be replaced by smaller rotational forces that would be deployed to “lily pad” bases in Eastern Europe and Africa.

With operations in Iraq and Afghanistan already stretching the military thin, it’s unclear how many stateside forces would be available for rotational duty to EUCOM.

Regardless, for more than a year U.S. military officials have been scouting potential bases in Eastern Europe, notably Poland and Romania, as well as several countries in northern Africa. The idea, Jones has argued, is to position forces closer to potential hot spots.

Jones has said any new bases will be relatively small in size and population — although capable of expanding as needs arise — and generally will not accommodate family members.

The proposed changes would not involve the building of large, major operations bases, such as Ramstein, but rather would rely on smaller, Spartan facilities to launch strikes against terrorists and provide austere training grounds.

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