DoD Examining Military Force 'Footprint' Worldwide
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
LISBON, Portugal, June 9, 2003 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today that the military is examining the stationing of U.S. troops worldwide.
In addition to the recent decision to pull U.S. troops off the demilitarized zone separating the North and South Korea, other movements may occur in the future.
"We are at varying stages in different parts of the globe in our thinking," Rumsfeld told reporters traveling with him for a series of European meetings.
U.S. forces are organized by combatant commands, each with an area of responsibility where its commander is in charge of placing troops. But Rumsfeld and DoD planners are examining the "footprint" of American forces worldwide. He said while a combatant commander looks at the world via his area of responsibility, DoD must look wider. The "seams" between commands are particularly troublesome, he said.
"We have been sequentially having (the combatant commanders) come in and give us their best recommendations," he said. "And we've looked at them and sent them back and suggested they look at some other options.
"Now what we're doing is looking at them all together," he continued. He said experts are taking the various pieces, "and asking the question, 'How can we best arrange ourselves from the standpoint of the American people and in the most cost-effective way?'"
At the same time, U.S. government officials are discussing the process with friends and allies around the world. Some discussions are with allies that already host U.S. forces such as in Europe while others are with countries with no appreciable U.S. presence.
"It's complicated," Rumsfeld said. "It's a big set of issues terribly important to our country, and we think we're approaching it in a very orderly and thoughtful way."
Rumsfeld addressed the U.S. presence in Europe. He said the forces "are somewhat of a legacy." U.S. forces were oriented to the defense of Western Europe and the threat of the Soviet Union. "So the question isn't, 'What do you need to defend against the Soviet Union?' but 'How do you want to be arranged around the world?' And that's the way we're addressing it," he said.
The discussion may come up during Rumsfeld's visits in the region, although he said that's not the trip's purpose.
Rumsfeld will meet with Portuguese Defense Minister Paulo Portas. He will then fly to Tirana, Albania, for discussions with Prime Minister Fatos Nanos and Defense Minister Pandeli Majko.
The secretary will then fly to Germany, where he will address the 10th anniversary of the founding of the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies before moving on to Brussels for the NATO defense ministerial.
"The NATO meeting is an important one, because we have made some good progress and we intend to continue that effort," he said. The defense ministers will discuss NATO's command structure changes and how U.S. changes fit.
NATO ministers too will look at the alliances force footprint. Rumsfeld said they have made some changes and "will make more."
The secretary said he is pleased with the progress NATO is making on the NATO response force.