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Editor’s note: A clarification to this story has been issued since its original publication.

HEIDELBERG, Germany — The first U.S. forces to rotate into the future training facility in Romania will likely be from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Stryker), probably some time in the summer of 2007.

The Stryker brigade is expected to relocate this year from Fort Lewis, Wash., to Grafenwöhr. One of its battalions plus a few other units are expected to go to Romania for the initial rotation, according to Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, the U.S. Army Europe deputy chief of staff for operations.

In the summer of 2008, the first regular rotations of U.S.-based brigades to Romania are expected to begin.

“I’m not sure which brigade that’s going to be or what kind of brigade — infantry, airborne, Stryker — but it will be one of those brigades,” Hertling said.

In the long term, Hertling said, the U.S. forces that rotate into Romania, to be called the Eastern European Task Force, could also include airmen and Marines. The rotations would last for up to six months and be unaccompanied tours (without family members).

On Dec. 6, the U.S. and Romania signed an agreement that set the stage for talks between military leaders on how the bases — which are being called shared facilities — would be used.

The agreement will allow U.S. forces to use the former communist-ruled nation for training, prepositioning of equipment and, if necessary, staging and deploying. The sites include the Smardan Training Range, Babadag Training Area and Rail Head, Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, and Cincu Training Range.

The U.S. is also negotiating with Bulgaria, Romania’s neighbor to the south, to establish similar training facilities.

“In the next couple of months, I’d say there’s a high chance of [an agreement with Bulgaria],” Hertling said.

Hertling outlined the plans for Romania on Thursday while announcing a move that would send about 4,800 soldiers this year from Germany to the U.S. and send 2,400 more to other units within USAREUR.

The move is part of an Army plan to establish four combat brigades in Europe that would be among the 40-plus combat brigades being assembled worldwide.

In addition to the brigades that rotate into Romania, other Europe-based combat brigades would be located in Grafenwöhr (the 2nd Cavalry Regiment), the Ansbach area (the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade) and Vicenza, Italy (the 173rd Airborne Brigade).

Romania has been a staunch ally of the U.S. during recent operations, having deployed forces to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The goals for the Eastern European Task Force were outlined in March during testimony to Congress by Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the EUCOM commander.

They include improved security in the region, better training opportunities for U.S., Romanian and Bulgarian troops, and quicker response “to areas of contention before they become areas of crises,” Jones said.


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