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BAUMHOLDER, Germany — With global commitments seemingly growing every day, it’s a busy time to be in the U.S. military, especially for troops in Europe.

Of the 62,000 soldiers assigned to U.S. Army Europe, 25,000 are currently deployed, according to USAREUR spokeswoman Elke Herberger.

By 2004, perhaps 90 percent of USAREUR units will have been to Iraq, most notably from the Army’s two forward-based divisions, the 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division. As a result, Army combat-arms soldiers in Europe have a 100 percent chance they will be deployed for at least six months, and more likely a year, from now until 2005.

In addition, about 75 percent of combat units in Europe are deployed, EUCOM deputy commander Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald was quoted in a news release as saying. In percentage terms, Europe is a bit busier than the United States.

Since 1999, the Wiesbaden-based 1st AD, and the 1st ID, headquartered in Würzburg, have had particularly busy operation tempos:

• 1st ID elements were in Kosovo December 1999 through December 2000, then again from May 2002 through October 2002;• 1st AD elements were in Kosovo November 2000 through November 2001;• The 1st ID deployed to Turkey in January this year, but returned after the United States was unable to get permission for attacks from Turkish soil;• Most of the 1st AD deployed to Iraq on May 1, and will remain there through April 2003;• The 1st ID is scheduled to relieve the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq next April.

No period in recent history has been nearly as busy in terms of deployments, said Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who was active duty from 1976 to 1998.

“This is a very different military than the one I was in,” said Peters, author of “Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph?” Peters also will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Land Combat Exposition, the United States Army Europe’s professional development forum.

“My hat’s off to the terrific men and women in today’s military. The schedule they face — the time away from home — is vastly different than what we faced,” he said.

During the Cold War, the Army “trained to face the Russians,” he said. “That meant going to Grafenwöhr [Training Center] for two or three weeks.”

It’s a great time to be in the military “in terms of really making a contribution, making a tangible difference” in Iraq, Peters said. This is also a difficult time because during the last decade, the Army has drawn down to 10 divisions from 18 while real world missions increased “geometrically,” he said.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he’s not convinced of the need to increase the size of the armed forces to cope with new U.S. commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Liberia.

However, some Senate Republicans are increasingly at odds with the Bush administration and the Pentagon.

In a Washington Times opinion piece Wednesday, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, bemoaned a too-small Army tasked do too many missions “and the toll this overuse is taking on our troops.”

“I think it’s safe to say there would be widespread and bipartisan support in Congress for increasing troop levels,” Kevin Schweers, Hutchison’s press secretary said in a phone interview.

Peters alluded to former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki’s departure speech, warning of the perils of trying to do a 12-division mission with a 10-division Army. “Really what we’re doing is trying to use a 10-division force to do a 15-to-18 division mission,” Peters said.

Peters said he’d like to see a 15-division Army, “but we’re not going to get it.” He rated a 12-division Army as minimal.

That’s not likely to happen under Rumsfeld’s watch, one observer of the administration said.

In a briefing last week, Rumsfeld “made it pretty clear that the last thing we need to be doing is adding divisions,” said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. The center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization which was established in 1998, according to its Web site.

Rumsfeld believes the structural costs of adding divisions would be too great, Gaffney said.

“Whether or not it’s the right answer … he pretty much threw down the gauntlet and said, ‘Over my dead body’” at last week’s briefing, Gaffney said.

That said, Rumsfeld “is not adverse to adding bodies,” just not by adding new military structure, he said.

Instead, Rumsfeld is looking at 300,000 military occupation specialties that might be filled by civilians. The secretary of defense is confident that it’s practical to replace 50,000 technical and administrative jobs with civilians, freeing up soldiers without the considerable costs associated with adding structure, he said.

Fifty thousand soldiers would be equal more than two large divisions, or almost four small divisions.

Pentagon officials are developing plans to try to cope with the growing deployments. Those include trying to persuade other nations to take part in the Iraq mission under U.S. command.

Also, planners are proposing to use active-duty units from all services, not just the Army, in Iraq. But others say the U.S. military — especially the Army — is simply too small.

“No rational person,” Peters said, “could question the need for at least two more Army divisions.”

Military deployments

There are about 118,000 U.S. military personnel — soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines — based in Europe, including 71,000 people in Germany. Of that number, roughly 28,000, or about 24 percent, are deployed to commitments in European Command or Central Command areas of responsibility, with the majority in Iraq:

(All numbers are approximate. Some brigade elements have returned to Germany, such as the 30th Medical Brigade’s 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.)

U.S. ArmyV CORPS

About 8,000 are soldiers in Iraq from elements attached to V Corps, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany. V Corps is scheduled to leave Iraq in April 2004. V Corp elements include:

• 1,500 soldiers, V Corps Command element, Heidelberg;• 1,200 soldiers V Corps Artillery, Heidelberg;• More than 550 soldiers, 11th Aviation Brigade, Illesheim;• More than 500 soldiers, 12th Aviation Brigade, Giebelstadt;• 500 soldiers, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, Wiesbaden;• 50 soldiers, 3rd Corps Support Command, Heidelberg;• About 1,000 soldiers, 22nd Signal Brigade, Darmstadt;• About 2,000 soldiers, 130th Engineer Brigade, headquartered in Hanau, and consisting of the 54th Engineer Battalion (Combat)(Mechanized) in Bamberg, the 94th Engineer Battalion Combat (Heavy), headquartered in Vilseck, the 565th Engineer Battalion in Hanau, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 130th Engineer Brigade in Hanau.• About 1,000 soldiers, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade;• About 1,200 soldiers, 18th MP Brigade, Mannheim;• About 1,800 soldiers, 30th Medical Brigade, Heidelberg;

1st ARMORED DIVISION

About 13,500 troops are in Iraq from 1st Armored Division, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany. The 1st AD has bases across Germany including brigade headquarters in Baumholder and Friedberg. The division is in Iraq until April 2004. Units include:

• 3,000 soldiers, 1st Brigade, Friedberg;• 3,000 soldiers, 2nd Brigade, Baumholder;• 1,800 soldiers, Aviation Brigade, Hanau;• 1,200 soldiers, Division Artillery, Baumholder;

173rd AIRBORNE BRIGADE

1,000-plus soldiers in Iraq from the 173 Airborne Brigade, headquartered in Vicenza, Italy. Though it is designated a brigade, the 173rd Airborne is closer in size to a brigade combat team, composed of two battalions, or a total of roughly 1,800 soldiers.

SOUTHERN EUROPEAN TASK FORCE (AIRBORNE)

About 30 soldiers are deployed in Liberia from SETAF headquarters in Vicenza, Italy, tentatively until Oct. 1.

SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, EUROPE

An undisclosed number of airmen, soldiers and sailors are in West Africa doing assessments. U.S. Special Operations Command Europe is based in Stuttgart, Germany

U.S. Air Force

There are 1,600 USAFE personnel out of 35,000 Europe-based personnel at six main operating bases deployed to various operations.

• Aviano Air Base, Italy — Deployed about 50 personnel to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) destinations.• RAF Lakenheath, England — Deployed about 350 personnel to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other CENTCOM AOR locations.• RAF Mildenhall, England — Deployed about 40 personnel to support Afghanistan, Iraq and other CENTCOM AOR locations.• Ramstein Air Base, Germany — Deployed about 350 personnel to support Afghanistan, Iraq and other CENTCOM AOR locations.• Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany — Deployed about 600 personnel to support Afghanistan, Iraq and other CENTCOM AOR locations.• Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany — Deployed about 10 personnel to support operations in CENTCOM AOR locations.

Of that 1,600, about 400 airmen from various Air Force bases, including Spangdahlem and RAF Mildenhall are deployed to bases in Senegal and Sierra Leone in support of the peacekeeping mission in Liberia, according to EUCOM officials.

U.S. Navy/ Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps Security Force Company Europe — 50 Marines — a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) is deployed from Rota, Spain, to Liberia. The unit is scheduled to return Oct. 1.

On The Bubble1st INFANTRY DIVISION

15,000 soldiers headquartered in Würzburg, Germany, are scheduled to deploy to Iraq next April to replace the 4th Infantry Division. The 1st ID has units at bases across central Germany including a brigade headquarters in Schweinfurt.

— Stars and Stripes

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