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John Vandiver

$349 million in projects continue even as military prepares to draw down in Germany

The Army Corps of Engineers says it has 80 projects underway in Germany at a cost of $349 million for the current fiscal year. But any number of those projects could eventually prove to be a multimillion-dollar waste if the Pentagon puts into action its plan to pull nearly 12,000 troops in the country.

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US mulls moving troops from Germany to Romania, Baltics and Poland, Esper says

Romania could get a U.S. troop boost and so might the Baltics as part of the plan to reduce force levels in Germany, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.


Marines to end continuous rotations to Norway

Instead of having up to 700 troops at a time in Norway on six-month rotations, the Marines will conduct periodic training and exercises with the Norwegian armed forces.


Ramstein personnel get green light for Belgium, Spain travel

Belgium and Spain are back as approved travel destinations for Air Force personnel in Germany.


Turkey still a major hub for ISIS militants, IG report says

U.S. European Command called Turkey a “major facilitation hub” for ISIS and said security at the country’s southern borders with Syria and Iraq continues to be a problem.


Military toughens rules on business travel to Belgium and Spain as coronavirus cases rise

Airmen can seek approval for leisure travel but the countries must be designated as “green,” according to coronavirus information on Ramstein Air Base’s website.


Special operations troops get a new boss in Stuttgart

Air Force Maj. Gen. David Tabor took command Monday of special operations forces in Europe, where he must begin planning to relocate his headquarters from Germany to a new home in Belgium.


Eight missing service members presumed dead after amphibious vehicle accident off Calif. coast

The Marine Corps said Sunday that it has called off the search for seven Marines and one sailor three days after an accident off the coast of southern California.


US troops could soon be heading to Poland under new agreement

The U.S. and Poland have agreed to a defense deal that will lead to more American troops deployed in the central European nation, a top U.S. diplomat said Friday.


AFRICOM begins search for new headquarters home

U.S. Africa Command has launched a search for a new headquarters home that could send the Germany-based unit somewhere else in Europe or to the United States.


What will it take to move 12,000 troops from Germany? Closures, time and lots of money

Removing 12,000 troops from Germany will likely mean several base closures and cost billions of dollars for an operation that could begin in weeks but take years to complete.


AFRICOM unit helps to rescue migrants from sinking raft in Mediterranean Sea

A U.S. Africa Command unit on a surveillance mission off the coast of Libya helped rescue 131 migrants after picking up their distress signal at sea, the military said this week.


‘Harassed’ by German tax offices, more US military families face financial threats

German towns that house U.S. troops have expanded efforts to impose income tax penalties on some military personnel, say affected families and an attorney warning that an assignment in Germany carries growing financial risk.


Air Force in Europe demonstrates its power in Black Sea joint drill

U.S. Air Forces in Europe led a large-scale show of force in the Black Sea that brought F-16s together with a Navy warship, drones and special operations aircraft to simulate the destruction of “well-defended targets.”


Plan to pull troops from Germany will take years, top Republican says

A Pentagon plan to reduce forces in Germany and send some to other parts of Europe has the backing of a top Republican senator, but he cautioned that the initiative will take years to put into action.


US airstrike kills seven ISIS fighters in Somalia

A U.S. airstrike in northern Somalia has killed seven fighters from the Islamic State group after they attacked an area where American troops were advising and assisting partner forces, U.S. Africa Command said Wednesday.


US, Ukraine launch Black Sea drills while Moscow puts its fleet on alert

The Navy destroyer USS Porter and submarine hunting aircraft joined a large-scale exercise that kicked off Monday in the Black Sea, where Russia recently ordered snap combat readiness drills involving thousands of troops.


German leaders appeal to US Congress to block troop cuts

The appeal, reported by Reuters and German news agencies, called U.S. troops in Germany “the backbone of U.S. presence in Europe and NATO’s ability to act.”


Military in Europe mandates virus quarantine for troops arriving from US, with no exceptions

Troops coming to Europe from the U.S. have to quarantine for 14 days and can no longer test out of it, military officials said Friday as they moved to contain a “significant spike” in coronavirus infections among incoming forces.


With eye on China and Russia, Foggo relinquishes Navy command with call for new Europe strategy

NATO needs a new maritime strategy to deal with the resurgence of Russia’s submarine force and China’s emergence as a military factor in Europe, the outgoing U.S. naval commander on the Continent said.


Russian-supported mercenaries planting land mines, booby traps in Libya, AFRICOM says

AFRICOM says it has “verified photographic evidence” showing mercenaries connected to the Russian state-sponsored Wagner Group placing booby traps and mines in the outskirts of Tripoli and other areas.


More information ‘in the coming weeks’ on proposed Germany troop cuts, Army secretary says

Details on a Pentagon plan to cut nearly 10,000 troops from Germany will be disclosed soon, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said during a call with reporters.


US Army uses French port as new launch point for Europe mission

Dozens of U.S. Army helicopters began flights Monday from La Rochelle, a port in western France used during the Cold War that is now playing a key role in deploying soldiers to NATO’s eastern flank.


Fort Hood cavalry unit deploying to Europe for Defender drills

A Texas-based unit will deploy on short notice for drills in Germany and Poland, marking the final phase of the Army’s Defender-Europe 20 exercises, the service said Friday.


US arrivals bump coronavirus cases at some Europe bases higher

Summer is peak travel time for the military as troops and DOD civilians move to new assignments, and arrivals from the U.S. have accounted for some coronavirus cases on overseas bases.


Air Force wants to turn Soviet-era base in Romania into NATO Black Sea hub

The defense spending bill for 2021 includes $130.5 million to renovate Campia Turzii Air Base in what would be the biggest overseas military construction project under the Pentagon’s European Deterrence Initiative.


Bad Wildbad has more to offer than public nude bathing

The Black Forest town of Bad Wildbad is well known as a wellness getaway, and it’s where I experienced firsthand the German tradition of getting naked with strangers.


Army to pay $1.6 million to quiet noise complaints at Stuttgart area range

The U.S. Army says it will pick up most of the tab for a noise reduction project in the Stuttgart area aimed at quelling local anger over gunfire at ranges used by special operations units.


Lithuania to buy US helicopters to bolster NATO capabilities in Baltics

A $380 million deal would include six Black Hawks and related gear and weaponry, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.


Troops, long-term residents exempt from EU coronavirus travel ban on Americans

Status of Forces and bilateral agreements with countries mean “we don’t anticipate any direct impacts on U.S. personnel,” U.S. European Command said.


ANALYSIS

Combat? Logistics? No easy answers on what troops to cut in Germany

Reducing the number of troops in Germany will likely bring added security risks and costs for U.S. taxpayers, former military officials and security analysts say.


Senators move to block Trump’s proposal to pull thousands of troops out of Germany

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced an amendment to next year’s national defense bill that would prevent President Donald Trump from withdrawing large numbers of troops from Germany.


Allied subs, warships launch large underwater warfare drills off Iceland

Six allied states are testing underwater warfare skills and the ability of crews to evade detection in NATO’s Dynamic Mongoose exercise, the alliance said.


Russia turning eastern Mediterranean into a militarized hot spot, Navy’s Foggo says

The U.S. Navy’s top admiral in Europe warns that Moscow could cement its dominance in the region if it’s allowed to gain a foothold in Libya.


Trump says some US troops in Germany could move to Poland

President Donald Trump intends to cut 9,500 troops from Germany, which would reduce the number of service members in the country by nearly one-third.


Army housing in Germany and Italy gets failing marks in latest quality survey

Housing at two Army posts in Germany and Italy is “very poor” and in need of significant improvements, the results of a survey of Army families in the U.S. and overseas show.