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Pentagon Still Studying How to Realign US Forces Around World - 2004-03-25

The Pentagon says it has made no final decisions on how to realign U.S. forces around the world.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Pentagon is still studying proposals for cutting back the number of American forces at existing bases abroad and relocating some of them to new facilities elsewhere overseas.

Speaking to reporters at the Defense Department, Mr. Rumsfeld declines to say whether there will be cutbacks in the current U.S. presence in places like Germany and South Korea.

He dismisses recent news reports about possible shifts as mere speculation. "You're reading speculation and the things that people are printing and opining on in the television and the radio are speculation. They can't know. They not only don't know, they can't know," he said.

One report, in The Washington Post newspaper, claimed about half of the 70,000 or so U.S. troops in Germany would be withdrawn. It said new bases would be established in Romania, possibly in Bulgaria and in three Central Asian countries. It also said there would be small reductions in the American presence in Asia.

Officials have acknowledged in the past such shifts are possible, reflecting the need to realign forces from outdated Cold War defensive positions and reposition them to meet the challenge of terrorism.

Mr. Rumsfeld says he does not even know what the outcome of the process will be, telling reporters further talks are still needed with each of the countries involved in the realignment effort.