• Germany's news in English

US to withdraw more than 11,000 troops

The Local · 17 Feb 2012, 08:02

Published: 17 Feb 2012 08:02 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"No one should equate lower numbers of US troops permanently stationed in Europe with declining engagement with our European partners," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters.

The details of the troop reduction, which include two Army brigades and two air squadrons, were announced as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hosted his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere, for talks at the Pentagon.

Both men endorsed the drawdown at a joint press conference, with Panetta promising the move would not alter Washington's commitment to the NATO alliance.

The Pentagon chief said over 40,000 American troops would remain in Germany and that "the new US defense strategy reaffirms the lasting strategic importance of the trans-Atlantic partnership with NATO allies such as Germany."

He added that de Maiziere "understands the necessity of the shifts we are making as we work to implement our new defense strategy while meeting our fiscal responsibilities."

De Maiziere said Germany would still serve a crucial role for US forces and said he could not complain about the Pentagon's downsizing as his own government was carrying out a similar approach for German forces.

"I cannot criticize the United States of America for doing something that we ourselves do," he said.

He added that the withdrawal of the American unit would have a "moderate" effect on the local economy.

Starting later this year, the US military will start pulling out two US Army brigades, two Air Force squadrons as well as about 2,500 support troops, officials said.

The two Army heavy infantry brigades and one of the Air Force squadrons, which flies A-10 "tank killer" aircraft, are currently based in Germany while the second air unit is located in Aviano, Italy.

The move will reduce the total number of American forces in Europe to roughly 70,000 from the current level of about 81,000, officials said.

Despite the drawdown, the Pentagon insisted the US military's close partnership with NATO allies would continue and that units in the United States would rotate to European bases to pursue joint training and exercises.

The Army chose to cut the two heavy brigades while leaving in place two other brigades, one airborne and one employing Stryker vehicles, which represent a more agile formation in keeping with a new US strategy that sees large, tank-heavy ground wars as unlikely.

The downsizing also will include closing down the Army's 5th Corps headquarters in Wiesbaden, officials said.

Story continues below…

The US military footprint in Europe has drastically declined since the Cold War, when more than 270,000 troops were stationed on the continent at one point.

The two Army brigades due to leave, the 170th heavy brigade in Baumholder and the 172nd heavy brigade in Grafenwöhr, have 3,850 soldiers each and both have been on tours in Afghanistan, with troops from the 172nd still on the ground in Paktika province.

Soldiers and families from the 170th brigade will begin moving out this summer while troops from the 172nd will start departing Germany in mid-2013, according to a fact sheet from the Pentagon.

The two aviation units due to depart are the 81st Fighter Squadron in Spangdahlem, with 525 personnel, and the 603rd Air Control squadron, with 336 airmen.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

08:27 February 17, 2012 by Daktari
So long... and thanks for all the fish!
09:05 February 17, 2012 by mos101392
This should be a start and not the end. With America in a recession, we can't afford to be the world's police anymore, When every American soldier, from every country, from around the world comes back to the US, we will be able to save billions not to mention the money saved from the foreigners who are employed around the world by the American taxpayer.

We should open up one of our closed bases and allow NATO to train for the next 50+yrs as we have been in Europe since 1945. They can help boost OUR communities for a change. After all, America provides a better and more realistic training environment resembling where most of the world's conflicts are currently, the Middle East. Prince Harry just completed some training in the Mojave desert, (not far from my home town), prior to deploying to Afghanistan.
09:28 February 17, 2012 by BuzzAbroad
67 years after the war ended here.... The American govt wouldn't do that in Iraq or Afghanistan. Too expensive. Strikes me they could have been saving money by withdrawing from Germany and Italy years ago.
10:54 February 17, 2012 by zeddriver

While I do agree with a lot of your points. The one big issue that has always been there and will continue to be. Is, Logistics. When one looks at all the wars since the industrial revolution. Where have most of them started and by whom. It's been in Europe and Asia. Even Vietnam was a fight between Ho Chi Minh and the French colonialists and the Japanese occupiers long before America was involved. The Middle east and Africa was colonized by Europeans. Who redrew border lines on the maps when the Europeans withdrew their Middle eastern/African colonies? Thereby helping set up future conflicts. The League of Nations. Which mostly consisted of European politicians. Even after WWI the Americans argued against punishing Germany so harshly. But the Europeans wanted to stick it to them. Thereby setting up a future war in Europe. So, Given the distances involved and the fact that Europe/Asia seems to be where the wars take place. It only makes since to have your troops and supplies nearby.
11:22 February 17, 2012 by HHayrider

The Luftwaffles have already landed!


The local economy is making some money off of foreign military. Maybe not much, but some...
11:48 February 17, 2012 by FollowAkela
this does not bode well for the TransAtlantic Council. It's all the more important now to bolster civilian oriented BSA units.
12:50 February 17, 2012 by murka
What is on the photo? German streets before the withdrawal?
15:31 February 17, 2012 by osas1212
Bye!! I will help them pack. I hope they all go soon
16:00 February 17, 2012 by Beachrider
I hope they all come home too. Some of those people that they thought they were protecting were clenching their teeth sooooo annoyingly.

We need these soldiers taking regular jobs that rebuild America, not some angry bunch that despises them.
17:29 February 17, 2012 by Gretl
@Beachrider - we weren't here to protect them. We were here to keep them from doing it again and thought we could go once the WWII generation had died off. However, neo-Nazism is on the rise again, and Germany is ruling the EU.

Maybe it is just to expensive to care anymore.
17:32 February 17, 2012 by Major B
Yep, let's keep bringing them out of the Fatherland. Much respect and we love Germany but it is time to go. It just isn't worth the indignities and lack of appreciation.

If forward basing is needed, and if doesn't violate treaties with the former Warsaw Pack, then facilities in places like Hungary, Poland, or even Romania can be worked.
17:42 February 17, 2012 by carlm
Germany can defend itself and pay for it too.
20:27 February 17, 2012 by Englishted
If the camouflage is as good as in the photo nobody will know they have gone ,in fact how did we know they were here?
22:35 February 17, 2012 by HBJager
After 67 years in is time to end the American occupation of Deutschland. If troops need a place to occupy send then to the RACIST, APARTHEID, STATE OF ISRAEL!!!
02:15 February 18, 2012 by brnskin2010
@Dr.Gideon....you need to calm down.....America needs to mind their own business....the military went to stop the germans from committing genocide against society......after doing so.....Americans just didn't know when to leave and they have worn their welcome out....germany should have asked them to leave, but instead they took advantage of the protection and rebuild and made their country stronger and better for their own german ppl.....all I can say is that the germans are a talented ppl.......just sayn
04:10 February 18, 2012 by deusvult
I'm disappointed by the ignorant and parochial comments posted about this story. @mos, you're an uneducated fool. We (Americans) have wasted more money through inefficient and wasteful government than we've spent on basing troops in Europe - and we've gotten no bang for the buck. 40% of US tax dollars each year are spent on two federal programs that are going broke - social security and Medicare! Very real possibility that when I retire, I won't get social security - because our politicians and federal government can't figure out how to manage resources.

Basing Soldiers in Europe on the other hand has ensured global stability and taught both Americans and Europeans how to better cooperate - not a tangible bang for the buck, but something that we wouldn't have today had we isolated ourselves like we did after WWI. What would have happened after WWII, had we isolated ourselves in the Mojave Desert (stuck our heads in the sand per say - like we did after WWI)? World War III - very likely. Imagine the cost of a WWIII to America and the world - in lives and $. Or perhaps hiding behind our borders would have protected us....

The U.S. fiscal situation is our own fault! American culture has thrived on spending above our means and making the quick buck for the benefit of the individual and at cost of the whole. Selfish! And then, instead of focusing on how to fix it, we played the blame-game and hoped it would get better soon. If America wants to maintain its position as a world power - economic, military, influence - then we better wake up!

I'd like to believe that those Europeans who've expressed negative opinions in this forum about American military presence in Europe are the minority. If anyone here thinks we can euthanize the trans-Atlantic relationship - you're nuts. Europe and America benefit tremendously from our economic and cultural ties; and the American military presence in Europe the past 60+ years has been "der Zement."
04:51 February 18, 2012 by c12dat

Sir/Ma'am ... you are an idiot.
08:48 February 18, 2012 by Yah right

Takes one to know one!
09:00 February 18, 2012 by osas1212
Wow and I was afraid my comment might seem too over the top! But anyway yes please go the faster the better. I used to be american but thank god none of that is left in me. I bought a house and retired here years ago for many reasons. Maybe the next president will be more isolationist. I get tired of going out and being embarrassed by the loud obnoxious americans, especially the military personnel.
12:25 February 18, 2012 by mos101392
@ deusvult

"you're an uneducated fool"

My my, such harsh language! However, this "uneducated fool" obviously hit a nerve that drew your response.. I myself don't respond to "uneducated fools" But I will make this exception!. I have heard similar comments but in the current world we live in, with advanced communications, countries are able to communicate better, Your view isn't reality in today's world climate. With current technologies, cyber warfare, satellites, drones, ships, aircraft, missiles, there is no need for "boots on the ground".

It would be a better idea to build floating bases in strategic locations around the world in neutral waters and keep them supplied. Or send ships as in the Abraham Lincoln is currently located, which is allowing free trade and stability in the Straight of Hormuz..

I do agree we as Americans are to blame for our own financial mess. But ask one of the millions unemployed Americans what they think about our tax $ being handed out to appease foreign countries to prevent wars. Sounds to me like BLACK MAIL! North Korea makes bombs hoping to bargain for food from the US, Pakistan is payed millions for their support, (and they can't be trusted, but trust me they are laughing their way to the bank). Millions wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the worst is the deaths of thousands of US and allied soldiers. As a retired soldier myself, I am still struggling with what we have gained, (and that is a big "WHAT"), and does it justify all the lives lost.

As for WWI and WWII, we didn't have bases throughout Europe and still the allies prevailed.
16:24 February 18, 2012 by Northern Delight
I think it's kinda sad to see them go and I'm absolutely shocked by some of the nasty comments on here.

I am from Germany but live in the UK now and every time I speak to someone from the British Army over here who has been living in Germany, they always say they loved it and would want to go back. That always makes me feel very proud about my home country and what we have achieved. I was a teenager in the 80s and when I went abroad in those days I always felt embarrassed being German because of our history. In that respect I think we have come such a long way.

I would be quite interested to know how the American Soldiers feel about leaving. Any comments welcome...
01:04 February 19, 2012 by Retired1
Served a total of nine years in FRG. First tour started in late 60's. Enjoyed them all, along with the German people and culture, from Giessen, Darmstadt, Wildflecken and Heidelberg. We go back and visit every summer. I do not believe any taxpayers money was wasted on forward stationing to include POMCUS stocks of heavy equipment in Benelux countries. It was a pleasure to serve alongside so many Allied NATO units. Hard duty at times, but very rewarding. My headquarters was only 13 kilometers from the Iron Curtain when it was breached in '89. What a honor.
03:42 February 19, 2012 by boopsie
DrGideonPolya's post above is just good ol' far left spam. Pay no attention to the lunatic fringe.
11:59 February 19, 2012 by HHayrider
@ Gretl

The basing of Allied troops in Germany wasnt to prevent the uprising of ex-Nazi's and having a 4th Reich, or an uprising. It was to keep the Soviets in check, so they didnt run ramshod across Western Europe. It is a documented fact that Russia wanted to go as far west as the Allies would allow. Once the war was over, the other major Allied victors kept troops in place to balance out the potential threat of Communism. Thus began the "Cold War". Speaking specifically of American troops, they were to act as a speed bump against any Soviet invasion, until more American, or even NATO troops could be mustered to stop an invasion.

As for American troops in Germany, I have not yet met a single one who said they hated Germany, and almost all have said they want to go back.

Thus, for the Germans really wanting the Americans out, at least they made the Ami's feel good while they were there!
14:27 February 19, 2012 by mos101392

"Thus, for the Germans really wanting the Americans out, at least they made the Ami's feel good while they were there!".

That's because we spent lots of American tax dollars and provided lots of jobs for the Germans. Most if not all Americans are overcharged on rent from German landlords. Just ask any German if they would pay the same and the answer would be "NO". Not to mention the how many millions are paid for the numerous bases and the upkeep, the costs of training FTXs, the costs of damages caused by training exercises, the chickens that were run over by our tanks and the multiple generations of chickens the dead chicken would have had.

Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike Germany but until we invent a money tree, we can't keep spending like some people use their credit cards. How much more of a deficit do we need? Is there no end? I hope we don't end up like Greece and have to impose the same austerity measures in America. If that happens, I'm sure the masses would make the occupy demonstrations look like boy scout camp outs.
19:35 February 19, 2012 by HHayrider

Oh, I am quite sure. I lived in Germany in the early 90s, and I remember some base closures from BRAC 93. The local economy was going to be devastated, so many people were going to be out of a job, the sky was falling... BAS/BAH rates were through the roof. You made almost as much in COLA, as you did your base pay.

But, the money train is running out of steam. Like you, I fear that we will be like Greece in a few years. Living in California, I have had a front row seat to the collapse of the housing market. After our recent trip to Germany, we are downsizing, in the hopes to be able to move. If not to Germany, than somewhere.
11:32 February 21, 2012 by Doggy
@Northern Delight,

You should not feel embarrassed with your history. It is a truth to say that the guilty always explain something, just because they feel guilty. There shall be some troops left anyway. Hmm, well when I talk with my high school friends from our military high school base, many of them are F-16 fellows actually in the discussion we talk about your German troops and about Germany as a nice country, with very high taxes. I think that continuation of the discussion as Germans should be at constant embarrassed of its history honestly is boring.
08:47 February 22, 2012 by Major B
@ MOS 101392 on the comments by deusvult

Look, you can't educate or inform people like him/her who get all their news from FOX and Rush Limbaugh. These people will take any "talking point" and repeat it, truth or not. He believes Pres Obama is Muslim, for example.

Just look at him, as instructed by the Fox News/Murdoch masters, going after Social Security and Medicare. Yes, these programs need adjustment but these same people, including Presidential candidates, bemoaned the fact the U.S. was puling out(finally) of Iraq. As for the trillions wasted with forward basing and maintaining huge forces and infrastructure overseas, yes, it was good for defense contractors and the military forces who were fortunate to experience living abroad. But for the U.S. to shoulder the majority of Europe's defense(and Japan's too) decades after WWII just speaks to the idiocy of empire.

And I love my country with all my heart. The Marshall Plan did the trick and Europe will just have to live with Germany's economic strength, built on decades of low defense expenditures and U.S. protection. Just think about it. The U.S. had to force the intiative in the former Yugoslavia, barely a decade ago. Even in Libya, it was the U.S. that provided the backbone for NATO to perform the air campaign. The billions wasted, squandered, in Iraq speaks for itself.

Finally, a clearer, more focused long range defense doctrine is being formed that finally makes sense. Never again to nation building. Be prepared for one and a half major conflicts. If Europe hasn't resolved to handle it's centuries of internal conflicts peacefully by now, it never will.
Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd