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Pentagon Studies Possible US Base Closures in Germany, Other Nations - 2003-02-11

The Pentagon is studying possible base closures and troop redeployments in Germany and elsewhere worldwide. But, senior officials say the reassessment has nothing to do with the current dispute between the United States and Germany over a possible war with Iraq.

One senior defense official tells VOA the global posture of the U.S. military may well look radically different in five to ten years.

But the official says a study now under way to reevaluate the continued use of bases in places like Germany pre-dates the current dispute within NATO over Iraq policy.

Instead this official links the reassessment to the Bush administration's overall plan for transforming the armed forces to meet 21st century challenges.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, while traveling to Europe last week, acknowledged a worldwide study was under way.

Asked specifically about the U.S. presence in Germany, Mr. Rumsfeld said some troops might stay, some might be shifted to other countries and some might be returned to the United States.

He made clear any such changes would be part of a post Cold War realignment. He noted that while American forces were once deployed abroad to deter possible attacks by the Soviet Union, now the threats are quite different.

Defense sources say the new supreme commander for U.S. forces in Europe, Gen. James Jones, favors cutting back the presence of American troops tied down to bases in Germany in favor of mobile units capable of moving quickly from country to country.

According to Pentagon statistics, there are some 250,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in foreign countries.

About 118,000 are in Europe with most of those, about 71,000, in Germany. Some 90,000 are in the Asia-Pacific region with the largest contingents, just under 40,000 each, in Japan and Korea.