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European edition, Thursday, May 31, 2007

STUTTGART, Germany — The top U.S. military commander in Europe is reviewing a report that assesses whether he has enough troops to fulfill his missions.

Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, head of EUCOM, is expected to examine the report, kick it back to his staff for fixes if needed, and then submit it to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others.

The report, called a troop-to-task analysis, could affect how many U.S. forces are based in Europe in the future. A U.S. European Command spokesman in Stuttgart said Wednesday that there was no time line for Craddock and the Pentagon to act on the report.

“The priority is that it is done correctly,” Army Maj. John Dorrian said. “They’ll take as long as they need to make sure it is done appropriately.”

When asked Wednesday, Dorrian declined to issue any contents of the report to Stars and Stripes. He said Craddock received the report over the Memorial Day weekend.

“He’ll make a determination as to if all the issues he asked be addressed were addressed,” Dorrian said. “Then he’ll decide what, if anything, needs to be presented to [Gates] for consideration.

“I can’t imagine he’ll give that document away until he has given it to [Gates].”

Dorrian said it was likely parts of the report — such as information about future exercises and the troops who would be tasked to carry them out — would be classified.

To his knowledge, Dorrian said, no delays in plans for military transformation in Europe had been made while the report is being reviewed.

About five years ago, the military embarked on a plan to reduce forces and close bases in Europe, mostly Germany, but has since slowed that effort.

Craddock recently stated that numerous EUCOM missions had been canceled in recent years.

“If the answer is, there are enough” troops in EUCOM to do the assigned missions, “then the fact is, we’re not operating to the effectiveness and efficiency we need to,” Craddock told reporters May 18.

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.”

EUCOM oversees U.S. military activities in 92 nations, including Europe and most of Africa. About 110,000 troops are now based in the command. Plans call for that number to be reduced to about 60,000 by around 2012.

Craddock also is supreme allied commander of NATO forces, whose area of responsibility overlaps much of EUCOM’s.

One of the U.S. command’s top strategies, Craddock said, is using his troops to improve security cooperation between militaries throughout the theater.

But since taking over EUCOM on Dec. 4, Craddock said that numerous nations’ defense ministers have asked him why U.S. forces were engaging less frequently with foreign militaries than in previous years.

One possible reason, Craddock said, was that his Europe-based troops have been frequently deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Wiesbaden, Germany-based 1st Armored Division, for example, has been deployed twice to Iraq, as have units from the 1st Infantry Division. The 1st ID was then moved last summer from Würzburg, Germany, to Fort Riley, Kan., as part of the military’s drawdown in Europe.

The Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade recently deployed for the second time to Afghanistan, and had previously been sent to Iraq. Army units based in Katterbach and Vilseck, Germany, are scheduled to deploy soon to Iraq.

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