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European edition, Saturday, May 19, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — A study that should answer the question of why U.S. troops in Europe are falling short on their “to-do” list from the Pentagon should be on the desk of European Command’s leader in the next seven to 10 days, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock said Friday.

Craddock asked his staff to conduct the study after he assumed his dual-hatted job as EUCOM commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in December, he told reporters in Washington.

The reason, he said, was that he was “concerned, based on indicators, that there are things the European Command is tasked to do — missions and tasks we’ve been given from the Department [of Defense] — that I’m seeing we are not doing. The question is, why?

“Is it because it’s convenient, with forces rotating into Iraq and Afghanistan from Europe, for commands — all well-intentioned and not in a bad context — not to do these things, because it’s difficult to do multi-echeloned complex-concurrent events?

“Or, is it because we’re short the types of units, forces and people we need to do those kinds of things?” Craddock said.

As part of the Pentagon’s “transformation,” process, EUCOM is undergoing a troop drawdown over the next several years, from about 110,000 to 60,000.

But ongoing wars have made members of Congress question Craddock on the wisdom of this plan, starting at a House Armed Services Committee in March.

Craddock told HASC members about the study, saying he was using it to assess whether assumptions made in 2002 “are still valid, and if not, what needs to be revised.”

Questions from senators about possible troop shortfalls in EUCOM in light of Iraq and Afghanistan came up again during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with Craddock on Thursday.

Craddock’s staff has some flexibility in delivering their study, which Craddock called a “troop-to-task analysis,” to the boss.

“I gave them to the 22nd to the 24th of May to deliver,” Craddock told reporters.

Craddock said he would not “prejudge” the study’s conclusion, but said there are only two possible outcomes:

“If the answer is, there are enough” troops in EUCOM to do the missions assigned by DOD, “then the fact is, we’re not operating to the effectiveness and efficiency we need to,” he said.

But “if the answer is we don’t have enough [troops] to do those things, then I have to go to the [Defense] Department and report those things, and assess the risk and staff shortfall.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Charlie Coon contributed to this report from Germany.

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