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'Significant Portion' of Troop Shifts to Be Europe-Based Forces

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2004 – "A significant portion" of U.S. troop moves caused by a reworking of America's global military posture "will come from Europe," a senior Defense Department official said here today.

Any redeployment of U.S. troops from Europe to the United States or elsewhere, the official told Pentagon reporters, will involve heavy armor and infantry units now based in Germany.

As part of the realignment of U.S. forces around the world announced earlier today by President Bush, the official noted that an Army Stryker brigade would be sent to Germany, where the official said a "very substantial" U.S. military ground presence will remain, to join a restructured 5th Corps. The official said DoD wasn't ready to discuss exact numbers of troops and units affected by realignments, saying that Bush's mention of numbers would do for now.

In his morning address at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Cincinnati, Bush said that over the next decade, about 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel, and about 100,000 family members and civilian employees would be redeployed from overseas bases to the United States.

Plans to rearrange U.S. military force posture around the world, the senior DoD official noted, have been in the works for the past three years.

Numbers of troops affected by force structure changes in the Pacific theater under the plan "won't be very dramatic," a senior U.S. State Department official noted at the Pentagon press briefing. U.S. forces in South Korea already are slated to move away from the demilitarized zone and out of the capital city of Seoul to locations further south.

The State Department official emphasized that any redeployment of U.S. troops in Europe is "not aimed at Russia."

"It's not our goal to have a shift of our forces to the east" from Germany, the senior DoD official explained, noting that U.S. troops would likely rotate in and out of eastern Europe to conduct joint exercises with allied nations.

Any realignments from Germany are unlikely to occur until fiscal 2006, another senior DoD official said. The realignments, in conjunction with the upcoming base realignment and closure process, the official said, will improve America's military power projection capabilities as well as ease the turmoil experienced by military families because of frequent change-of-station moves.

Senior DoD officials said the Defense Department also is deliberating which stateside military bases to recommend for closure or realignment under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005.

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