Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld met with President Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on Friday to discuss plans for overhauling the U.S. military’s overseas basing.

While much of that plan is being kept quiet, some new details on how the U.S. European Command will be effected emerged this week.

EUCOM has been exploring options for a massive reorganization of its 106,000 troops for months now, including shifting forces into Eastern Europe and Africa, while sending some units back the United States.

Among the possibilities now being discussed publicly is the opening of new outposts in Lithuania, according to a Pentagon announcement quoting EUCOM’s deputy commander, Gen. Chuck Wald. Wald also said the command plans to hold on to its existing bases in Rota, Spain; the Army training area in Grafenwöhr, Germany; and EUCOM’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Grafenwöhr has a world-class, irreplaceable range,” said Wald, according to an Aug. 6 Army release.

“What good would it do to give something like that up just to say you did it?” asked Wald. “It’s the same thing with Ramstein or Stuttgart,” Wald told a gathering of military public affairs specialists.

In a similar Defense Department release from the same meeting, Wald is also quoted as adding the Navy’s air station at Rota — a key logistics hub for operations in the Mediterranean and Africa — to the list.

Until now, Ramstein Air Base was the only major U.S. facility in western Europe that EUCOM officials would name as safe from proposed cuts and restructuring.

The announcement also marks the first official nod by EUCOM leaders to keep the Army’s main training center in Europe.

The Army hopes to consolidate two of four of its ground maneuver brigades in Europe at the Bavarian live-fire training facility, but EUCOM officials have been touting instead the advantages of moving into eastern Europe to take advantage of less-restrictive training facilities among former Warsaw Pact nations now bidding for entry into NATO.

The Army’s top commander in Europe, Gen. B.B. Bell, has declined numerous requests by Stars and Stripes to discuss the ongoing transformation efforts.

As recently as last month Wald, however, had been hinting that perhaps Grafenwöhr had outlived its usefulness.

“The environmental status of Grafenwöhr has now changed to that point that it’s a protected area,” Wald said in the July 23 edition of Deutsche Welle.

“It’s one of those ironic Catch-22s. As a result of the good stewardship of the U.S. military, we’ve done such a good job of protecting the environment that you can’t train there. There seems to be a little more latitude in the eastern European countries that are emerging now to allow better training opportunities.”

While Wald’s boss, Marine Gen. James Jones, has pointed to Romania and Bulgaria as candidates for hosting new U.S. military outposts, for the first time Lithuania has been publicly added to that list.

The Army News Service release quoted Wald saying Lithuania — as well as Romania and Bulgaria — was among the candidates to host rotational forces for six-month tours of duty.

A spokeswoman for the Lithuanian government could not immediately comment.

Danguole Bickauskiene, a spokeswoman for the Lithuanian armed forces, said she was unaware of any discussions about basing U.S. forces in the country.

A U.S. diplomatic official in the region said he was unaware of any serious discussion on basing U.S. forces in Lithuania, as well.

“It certainly hasn’t been at the same level as Romania or Bulgaria,” he said.

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