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Defense Budget: Costs in Europe

Stars and Stripes reports: “As the Pentagon prepares once again to cut forces and facilities on the Continent, experts say decades of downsizing have already eliminated most of the Cold War-era fat, leaving planners with a dilemma: make minor tweaks that will offer only modest savings or carry out sweeping changes that will alter the face of the military’s presence in Europe.”  

“There’s little room left for a middle-of-the-road approach that simultaneously offers substantial savings, protects core U.S. interests and pacifies critics who argue that the overseas presence is a bloated Cold War relic.”  

The piece continues: “All remaining options in Europe involve trade-offs.”  

“Cutting deeply into Air Force or Navy units would reduce their ability to respond swiftly to crises in Africa and the Middle East, and to maintain resupply and air refueling capabilities for any engagements in those regions.”  

“The Army has cut thousands of troops and closed or consolidated hundreds of installations in the past 25 years. By 2015, about seven main garrisons and some 30,000 soldiers will remain in Europe. Most of these troops serve as logistical enablers and training partners for allied forces with whom the U.S. has operated in places such as Bosnia, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.”  

“Now that most of the Army’s consolidation in Europe is completed — two brigades have been inactivated within the past two years and garrisons in Bamberg and Schweinfurt will soon shutter — the Army’s former top officer in Europe says additional base closures would compromise the remaining mission.”

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