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An Ocean Closer: Re-Examining US Force Reductions in Europe

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Research paper

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U.S. ground force presence in Europe has declined significantly since the end of the Cold War. In the late 1980s over 200,000 Soldiers, organized with 2 Corps Headquarters, 4 Division Headquarters, and over 16 ground combat brigade equivalents, were stationed in Germany. In the early 1990s a massive reduction in ground forces led to a force of about 42,000 Soldiers structured around 5 ground combat brigades. In 2003, the Bush Administration announced a plan to draw down U.S. ground forces in Europe to about 28,000 Soldiers, centered around 2 Brigade combat teams. At the same time, the Army units remaining in Europe began to undergo a transformation into a more modular structure designed to increase their ability to deploy rapidly. These transformations should be completed by 2013. The current EUCOM Commander, General Bantz Craddock, however, asked the Secretary of Defense in the fall of 2007 to suspend the ongoing drawdown, based on continuing requirements to sustain training and other exercises with foreign militaries and as a hedge against current risks to U.S. security. This request was approved by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in November 2007. What is a sufficient U.S. military force structure for ground forces in Europe given the current VUCA environment How does EUCOMs strategic vision and force requirements compare with potential future U.S. national strategies How does the current financial crisis affect the situation This paper will explore these issues and offer an assessment on the continued value of sustaining the current U.S. ground force presence in Europe. It will also suggest possible adjustments to U.S. national security documents.

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  • Geography
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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