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Thousands of US soldiers to leave Germany

The Local · 13 Jan 2012, 15:51

Published: 13 Jan 2012 15:51 GMT+01:00

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American Defence Secretary Leon E. Panetta said two of the four combat brigades currently in Europe would be moved. That is between 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers in total.

As three of those four brigades are in Germany, several thousand US soldiers stationed here are bound to be packing their bags soon. The third brigade is in Italy. Panetta said other units would be moved and out of Europe on a rotational basis.

Panetta played down the effect of the withdrawal on European communities by saying that many combat troops had been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years anyway.

In a written statement, Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, who is the Army’s commanding general in Europe said he could not release details.

“Until those plans mature and are formally approved, we can provide no further information regarding specific units or communities involved, or the methods of rotating units,” he said.

But the US military’s Stars and Stripes newspaper said that previous discussion about troop withdrawal from Germany had focused on Army troops stationed in Grafenwöhr, Bavaria and Baumholder, Rhineland-Palatinate.

Approximately 41,000 US Army personnel are currently based in Europe, with the majority in Germany. There are about 80,000 US military personnel, including the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps members in Europe

US authorities have been steadily reducing their European forces since the end of the Cold War, when more than 200,000 US military personnel were stationed on the continent.

Story continues below…

The British government has also announced a withdrawal of its own, with half of the country’s 20,000 Germany-based troops returning home by 2015 and the rest leaving by 2020.

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:23 January 13, 2012 by strahlungsamt
Guess the prostitutes will have to pack up and go elsewhere too.
16:29 January 13, 2012 by raandy
This should have been done after the fall of the Iron Curten , and the wall. Other than supporting a few communities there was no reason for foreign troops to remain here.
16:50 January 13, 2012 by William Thirteen

my thoughts exactly...
16:50 January 13, 2012 by Holy_Cannoli
I was stationed in Wurzburg from 2003 - 2006 the German people were some of the most gracious hosts while I was there. I am sure a majority did not care for us being there (I would prob feel the same if a foreign army was stationed near my home in the states)....however, it was never expressed to me directly. Those years in Germany are something I will always cherish and I have nothing but love/respect for the people, country, and beer of Germany.
16:55 January 13, 2012 by twisted
This doesn't surprise me giving the need to reduce spending by the U.S. I kind of expected it and expressed those thoughts to a friend just recently. The departure will have an impact on some German communities with the loss of civilian jobs by German nationals. But it is time to go home. I suspect all troops will be gone in less than 10 years from now.
17:34 January 13, 2012 by trevzns
@ twisted

Perhaps not all U.S. troops will leave Germany or Europe. The Allies and Americans have learned their lessons from the past two World Wars and have no desire to fight their way back into Germany or Europe anytime soon.
18:26 January 13, 2012 by djhartmannn
This is no surprise and has been slowly in the works for years.

As a serviceman I had the great experience of being stationed once in Bitburg and once in Spangdahlem. I have no experience with the Army communities, but the villages in the Eifel where I lived and traveled were wonderful and the people of the Eifel were nothing but friendly and welcoming. So if you have any visions of harsh occupations you need to walk the streets of these communities and talk to the people who live day to day with them. The few times I did see protestors they were not locals who lived and worked with the Americans & the Germans I knew did not think highly of these people.
18:29 January 13, 2012 by Neanderthal75
It's time for ALL US troops to leave Europe! It's also time for Europeans to step up and take TOTAL responsibility for defending Europe.

I miss Germany and my German family members so very much, but it's time for my countrymen to come home and for Europeans to deal with European problems......and considering the SERIOUS threat of Islam to all European countries and Europeans, they had best step up NOW before they lose their own countries!

WHY is violence by Muslims against both non-Muslims and other Muslims STILL tolerated and hushed up by the media and governments?

Get Real. Get Honest. Get Solutions.
19:03 January 13, 2012 by Expat IV
I agree that we Americans need to leave Germany, but the timing is not great right now. Germany is facing the financial strain of supporting the euro and has recently decimated its military. Combine the cost of propping up the euro, re-building its military and the financial shock of the withdrawal of U.S. military forces and you get a depressing picture.
20:48 January 13, 2012 by nemo999
We have heard from USAER, and I am surprised that it is just 2 of the 4 IBCT that are going. I expect that this is just the first part of the draw down.

The next big step will start in 2014 when I would guess that another IBCT will be rotated either back to the States or to Korea, and a rather large draw down of 5th Corp, 21st TLC, and 7th Army.

I would suspect at sometime that AFRICOM is moved back to the States. I would also expect that USARAF is going to take some type of hair cut.

At the present USAFE has been rather silent on the subject, but I would also expect to see their force structure/footprint reduced in Europe.

You can not say that it is a surprise. Outgoing SECDEF Robert Gates, gave a rather point speech (June 2011) saying that United States Congress would not agree to carry the total costs of NATO, and that Congress would not continue to support NATO at it's current funding levels. This in addition of that DOD cannot or will not provide the Armed Services with the total cost associated with deploying personnel to Europe which it has asked for on numerous occasions makes the prospect of further reduction in Europe very real.

These reductions will also hit the number of Local National positions that are currently supporting USAER, and USAFE.
21:03 January 13, 2012 by carlm
Germany, along with Italy, Japan and South Korea are more than capable of defending themselves. The sooner the US removes it's troops from those countries, the better.
21:15 January 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ carlm

US troops did not stay in Germany to defend Germany. It was/is a hub to Middle East and other destinations.
21:17 January 13, 2012 by Notburga
yes, I believe it is time that the troops will start to withdraw from Germany....thanks for the help, but please do not ever forget, that the US Gevoernment is not doing anything out of the goodness of their heart, but only to protect their very own interests...and this goes naturally for all countries....the US stayed after the war to keep a close eye on the Russians and now they want to move to the area around Australia to keep an eye on China....we appreciate all the help and the fun we had, but don´t worry....we will manage.....and all the places where troops already left, like Fürth, Bitburg or Stuttgart, did an amazing recovery and fully and totally enjoy the military free life......Americans are always welcome in Germany, but please leave the uniforms and amunition at home....practise war in your own country and come for a visit to drink a beer and visit the sights and maybe some friends if you were able to make some
21:22 January 13, 2012 by JAMessersmith
American here...

I think this should've happened a long time ago.

When we were occupying Iraq, it used to drive me nuts when I'd hear people say, "We can't keep our troops there forever"... Yet, we've been keeping troops in Germany and Japan since 1945. War's over guys. Go home.

Disclaimer: this is not to say I supported the occupation of Iraq, because I most certainly did not. I was against that one from the very beginning. I have a simple rule that I use to gauge whether or not an armed conflict is worth fighting; I ask myself , "Would I be willing to die for this?". And in regards to Iraq, the answer was always an emphatic NO.
21:28 January 13, 2012 by Gretl
Here's an idea...instead of BRACing all these bases in the US, how about inviting other countries to utilize old American bases and training in the US? Their countries soldiers spending their money in the US? Think about the influx of currency and the opportunities for cross training. Bases not closing, communities not suffering. Change the paradigm....
21:28 January 13, 2012 by mos101392

We should have drawn down allot sooner. With a 14+ trillion deficit, we can't afford to keep employing foreigners in foreign lands off the backs of American taxpayers. I wonder what the ratio is of countries that fund our economy versus the money America spends on foreign economies. Here in Germany, I know from experience we pay the German employees more than the American employee for the same job. I also know from experience our German landlords overcharge their American tenants for rent. That is why they are so friendly! Go to any housing office or ask any German and they will tell you they would never pay the rent that is charged the Americans tenants. Funding these last 2 wars, Bosnia, Somalia, Korea, ect ect costs money and we cannot just keep printing more money. With drones, ships, submarines, aircraft, missiles, satellite there is no need to have boots on the ground just to pay the locals for renting land for bases, upkeep costs, giving jobs to their citizens, being singled out by the local polizei for traffic violations ect. The poor in America are much worse off than the poor in Europe...just travel the streets of any major American city then come to Europe!!! You have to shake your head and ask why are we wasting our money abroad?

I for one do not except the philosophy that we have to waste away our money to appease everyone just to avoid wars at the expense of our own citizens.
22:51 January 13, 2012 by wood artist
It is clear that the original needs for US troops in Germany is gone. We could debate when that happened, and the fall of the wall is probably as good a date as any. Since that time the troops have not been there to "defend" Germany, but rather to address US interests, most often not in central Europe at all.

All that said, I believe that most Germans and most Americans, especially those fortunate enough to have served in Germany, have met and discovered that both countries can contain wonderful friends. Although the generation is slowly dying off, those who remember Berlin and the Luftbrücke will never forget what the "Americans" were willing to do for them, even if it was more about the Russians than the Germans.

Although it is clearly the time to go, I hope that the troops leave behind...setting aside the current economic issues...a better place than we found. I also hope that, with time, Germans can feel the same way too. Thank you, Germany, for your hospitality.

22:52 January 13, 2012 by Klaipeda
I agree. Europe is capable of defending itself. Although they have a small defense force, Europe really doesn't have any enemies. All the hype about supposed enemies by the English speaking media is propaganda. From the American "missile defense system" which is supposedly built to protect against an Iranian attack (even though Iran has no nuclear weapons, no delivery system that can reach Europe, no reason to attack Europe and it would be suicide for them to do so), to a supposed Russian threat. Everyone in Europe knows this is propaganda made up so the USA can expand its influence there (like when the USA had soldiers in Georgia when Georgia attacked Ossetia).

Fortunately for the world, a significant amount of Americans question the wisdom of stationing soldiers all over the world. This is why the Presidential candidate Ron Paul (who wants to stop the wars against Muslims and wants to bring American troops home) is doing very well in the presidential race. The cost is high and occupying and killing people only creates hate. That is why Americans and Israelis are disliked in the middle east. The best thing Europe could do is what they did in 2003 when France and Germany refused to support the USA when it killed over one million people in Iraq.
23:08 January 13, 2012 by Notburga
Instead of trying to control the world the US really should start to clean up the own country. They got more money out of being stationed here than all landlords together ever collected rent, if I may say so. Too bad it took this big deficit to start withdrawing the troops. And it is a shame that the majority of Americans is so pourly educated and interested in the rest of the world that they believe the lies that they are told. The US builds up enemies to justify theír wars. First they are befriended with the despots of the world and then they take them to war. It is good when they go home and let everybody take care of their own affairs.
23:13 January 13, 2012 by zeddriver

I would support that. While I was attending electronics school at an air base in Illinois. We were also training the Iranian air force troops. Never had issues with them. And they could also see that we weren't barbarians.
06:07 January 14, 2012 by Stuttgartborn
I was born in Stuttgart to an American father and German mother in 1955 and left Germany for the USA in 1959. My memories of Germany are almost nil, but I still identify with the country of my birth. My father loved everything about Germany and embraced the culture to the fullest. Growing up I remember him often saying that he'd have loved to retire in Germany, but on his enlisted mans pension that was out of the question.

Conversely, my German mother loved the USA and once settled here never wished to return to her homeland. We vacationed in Germany in the summer of 1972...even went to Berlin, and probably the most vivid memory of my life was seeing the Berliner Mauer up close and personal.

I completely understand the Germans desire to see the American soldiers depart...their mission has long since been fulfilled. On the other hand, I hope they remember why our men and women were there in the first place and appreciate the service they performed.
06:36 January 14, 2012 by Uncommon Sense
In scanning these articles I see one very important item missing, the economic impact on Germany. For years, the largest concentration of Americans living outside the USA has been located in Germany. Multiply that number of Armed Forces Personnel times the number of dollars they had to spend, and you get a huge impact, plus the building and other fees the USA paid to Germany. If Germany had to compensate the USA for all it has built and restored in Germany, their country would be broke!

Is it possible Germany has not been hit as hard financially as other European nations, precisely because of the US dollars flowing into Germany for many decades? Will this draw down cause Germany to fail in the years ahead?
07:12 January 14, 2012 by mos101392
@Uncommon Sense,

I agree with you! However here is the problem,

"Will this draw down cause Germany to fail in the years ahead?"

NOT MY PROBLEM! Once again we are more concerned about someone else's potential problems when we should be worrying about our own.

Our own infrastructure is crumbling yet we pour millions into other countries....WHY! We've poured billions if not trillions into Germany since the end of WWII...I think I can say now they are better off than most...I also think Japan is better off than most since WWII. We've sacrificed America by trying to help everyone else.

We should jump start our economy with renewable energies projects...look at the European public transportation system and look at ours, A JOKE! One day I hope to be able to not have to travel more than a few miles to catch a train...in every town in America....just like in Europe.

Before you help others, you need help yourself! That is why I write countless letters so unemployed, broke Americans and congress are aware of where their tax dollars are being spent around the world.

In past draw downs, German mayors of the affected areas, have made trips to Washington to plead not to close the American bases. This alone is an indication of their dependence on the US dollar.

Closing down and sending troops home is a good start, just hope it doesn't just stop with 10k or 15k troops.


Awesome idea!!!!
10:32 January 14, 2012 by joysonabraham
We need the Americans to police the world somehow. When there was more than one super power or moderately powerful parties. The world was not so nice. At least we have to learn from the past. Always the king will have all the powers and the luxuries but a better off king can keep the subjects also better off. I was not referring just to world wars. To all wars in all continents.
11:06 January 14, 2012 by Shiny Flu
Nothing like letting the sock-puppets/trolls comment.

Anyway, it's something that's already been happening (read UK soldiers) and makes political & economical sense.
12:00 January 14, 2012 by freedom1776
I served 2 tours in Germany during the cold war, 1978 thru 1989. I had good experiences in West Germany as it was known then. The people of Germany, the scenery, food, beer, railroads, and Volks Marching--all good. While stationed in Heilbronn, Stuttgart, Swabisch Hall, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich; I met many fine German citizens. All in all, I consider my tax money and personal money well spent in and for Germany. In 1990 America drew down its' forces in Europe from 300,000 to 100,000 and continues the draw down today. Americans eventually leave the places taken in war. When they depart they leave behind a Constitution and a rule of law so the citizens can govern themselves and that is the goal America hoped for. That has worked in South Korea, Japan, and West Germany. It will not work under Islam (Iraq, Afganistan) and Democracy is about to go down in Turkey. Because Islam cannot compete against other religions, is must destroy and terrorize because it is weak and insecure. All over the world there are Secular and Religious Tyrants, Hitler lives within them. America will always fight against them. May it always be so.
12:58 January 14, 2012 by twisted
Not so sure Europe IS capable of defending itself or even willing. With the US at their back, Europe has depended on the US for years. The UK and France would probably have the ability to take up the defense baton if necessary, but Germany, no F'n way. Not enough troops, equipment or aircraft or the experience of command. Now if the German government would take the money they currently use to support the US troops in Germany and apply that same money to their defense needs, things could improve, but I doubt that the money will be used that way....it will be turned into social programs (which is also good, but not what the country needs).
13:21 January 14, 2012 by joysonabraham
I mean a military super power. Economically and Socially all must be well off for a better world. Lets all have trade and surplus but only one military super power. That's better.
14:24 January 14, 2012 by JohnnesKönig
I've read lot of nice posts here and agree with many... But I feel the main part of the story has been overlooked.

Where are the troops being moved to?! And even more importantly, why?
15:45 January 14, 2012 by koolbreeze
Bases in Germany are expensive cold war relics. We are using bases that were built in the nineteen thirties. As a soldier and civilian, I watched bases in Frankfurt, Bad Kreuznach, Giessen,Hanau and Friedberg close. I worked, partied, fell in love and got married in this country. But all good things must come to a end.
17:09 January 14, 2012 by X13F
I was stationed in Bad Kissingen back in the early 1980's. Like others who have posted here, I LOVED Germany. Had so many good times that after I got out of the Army I actually reenlisted just to go back to Germany. I hope some day to return. Too bad other Americans won't get to experience living in that wonderful country the way I did. Germany will do fine without the dollars, they aren't worth much anyway. To the future! Prost!
15:08 January 15, 2012 by XFYRCHIEF
One may argue economic benefits, etc., but there is one thing I think many have overlooked: the impact on attitudes of Americans who have lived in Germany towards the people of Europe. As you read the comments posted here, some of the most telling are those from American soldiers who found, as my wife and I did (only as tourists), that the German people are warm, generous, and fun loving people. They - for the majority - welcome people and are happy to share their culture and life. The impact of this "education" will be lost, as will the attendant knowledge of Europe. This, to me, was worth every penny the U. S. spent in stationing troops there. Future generations will not have the same experience and will lose sight of the need for us to support each other, I am afraid.
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