A senior defense official says the United States has no plans to build military bases in Eastern Europe as part of its global realignment of forces.
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith has told lawmakers the Pentagon wants to work more closely with new NATO allies in Eastern Europe.
But testifying before a Congressional committee, Mr. Feith says there are no plans for opening new U.S. bases in any East European country as part of the Pentagon's planned global realignment of forces.
He says that has resulted in disappointment during recent U.S. consultations with East European officials. "In fact, they've been disappointed when we had to tell them that we're not planning to build any bases in Eastern Europe," he said. "They would be delighted to host the Americans there, but that's not what we have in mind."
Mr. Feith says the Pentagon is looking for ways to facilitate closer cooperation between the U.S. military and East European allied forces. He says the Pentagon also wants, as he puts it, "to take advantage of their location for our operational requirements."
While he gives few details of U.S. plans, Mr. Feith suggests defense officials are looking at gaining access to existing military facilities in Eastern Europe, whether for exercises or operations.
There has been some speculation U.S. troops now based in Germany might be relocated to countries such as Bulgaria, Poland or Romania.
Mr. Feith confirms plans for future U.S. military cutbacks in Germany and Korea. He says some of those troops will be relocated to the United States and not re-deployed to other foreign locations. However, he says the Pentagon still has an interest in maintaining some forces abroad.