Transformation plans to be addressed soon, says U.S. ambassador
January 22, 2004
STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. ambassador to Germany on Tuesday said he expected an announcement about the U.S. European Command’s transformation plans in the next few months and definitely before U.S. elections in November.
Ambassador Dan Coats met with EUCOM officials and later had a private lunch meeting with members of the local German media. His comments were printed in the Stuttgarter Zeitung and confirmed by a spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt.
Coats’ words are one of the few statements to address when EUCOM’s much-discussed transformation plan would be revealed.
EUCOM officials have maintained, as they did on Wednesday, that there is no timetable of any transformation announcement.
The article quoted Coats as saying the plan will still include a substantial U.S. presence in Germany.
And despite some members of the Bush administration talking about less reliance by the United States on “Old Europe” countries such as Germany, Coats said in the article that old partners still have substantial influence in what the United States does.
Coats visited EUCOM this week to meet with U.S. officials and ambassadors from other countries.
The EUCOM transformation plan, spearheaded by EUCOM Commander Marine Gen. James Jones, has sparked speculation by Europeans and American military personnel as to how quickly it will occur and what communities will be affected by it.
Jones has talked of rotating troops to temporary camps in places such as Bulgaria, Romania and Poland in Eastern Europe and Djibouti in Eastern Africa, while cutting back substantially on the U.S. military presence — currently at about 100,000 troops — elsewhere in Europe, particularly in Germany.
Jones has pledged to keep several U.S. bases in Germany, including the air bases at Ramstein and Spangdahlem and the training area in Grafenwöhr, but he never specified which ones would close.
A fresh story runs nearly every week in the European media speculating over which bases would close.
Jones has said, however, that troops deployed to the Middle East from Europe would be returning home to Europe, and that bases would not be closed in their absences.