Support our mission

President Bush’s proposal Monday to significantly reduce the number of troops based overseas met with guarded and mixed responses in Europe.

U.S. military officials in Europe largely deferred to the U.S. European Command, which released a statement as the president was preparing to speak at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Cincinnati. Bush wants to redeploy tens of thousands of troops back to the United States as part of a global realignment of forces.

“Our efforts will support NATO’s own transformation,” the EUCOM statement read. “We aim to eliminate Cold War legacy structures that are no longer relevant to today’s security needs. Our future posture will contain forward forces that are rapidly deployable for early entry into conflict regions in Europe, Africa and beyond.”

The president wants to redeploy up to 70,000 servicemembers from Europe and Pacific to bases in the United States over the next decade. The majority of the troops pulled would come from the European theater.

Such a move, which has been bandied about for years, would have far-reaching effects for everybody affiliated with the U.S. military, from servicemembers and their families to dozens of local communities.

“We want the American soldiers to remain in Giessen,” said mayoral spokesman Christoph Zörb. “The soldiers are very, very welcome.”

Given the announcement by Bush came at the end of the workday in Europe, some German and American authorities spent the better part of the day anxiously waiting to hear what the commander in chief had to say.

The EUCOM statement expounded on several key elements of the president’s announcement, including:

Ground, air, and naval headquarters will be streamlined and consolidated.Special Forces, both forward-stationed and rotational, will increase in importance; they will be positioned for ease of movement both within and outside of Europe.Rotational air, ground and sea forces will provide presence without permanence, assuring U.S. allies and partners while accounting for regional sensitivities.Forward Operating Sites and Cooperative Security Locations, particularly in new NATO member states, will provide greater operational flexibility and opportunities for advanced bilateral and NATO-wide training.It is important to understand that the president’s transformation plan will take several years to implement.European Command officials have said no money has yet been earmarked for the expensive job of mothballing bases and shipping troops and gear home. Privately, some local military officials say there has been no sign of planning for a future anywhere except Germany, where the majority of troops in Europe are based.

“We’re continuing to provide base operations for soldiers and families within our footprint,” said Don Klinger, spokesman for the Würzburg-based 98th Area Support Group, which includes the communities of Bamberg, Schweinfurt, Kitzingen, Giebelstadt, Illesheim and Ansbach.

Most troops in the area are in Iraq, halfway through a difficult deployment that already has claimed the lives of nearly 45 Germany-based troops from 1st Infantry Division or its support units.

Said Army Spc. Rebecca Sharpton, a 1st ID spokeswoman in Wurzburg: “Our biggest push is getting people home safely to Germany.”

Reporters Charlie Coon and Steve Liewer contributed to this report.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up