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Old 08-04-2003, 12:47 PM   #1
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Closing Military Bases in "Old Europe"

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The Pentagon is smitten with Romania. And Poland. And Bulgaria, too.

The Defense Department is considering closing many, if not all, of its bases in Western Europe - which are primarily in Germany - and to shift its troops to spartan new sites in the former Soviet bloc. Already we are told that the First Armored Division, now on the ground in Iraq, will not return to the bases in Germany it left in April. And Gen. James Jones, the head of the European Command, said this month that all 26 Army and Air Force installations in Germany, except for the Air Force base at Ramstein, might be closed. In effect this could mean transferring five army brigades, some 25,000 troops, to the East.
This article is well worth a read. It is written by a former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Regan.

He presents an interesting case against this idea.http://www.cfr.org/publication.php?id=6172
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Old 08-04-2003, 01:45 PM   #2
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Dreadsox,

I'd really like to read the article, but I get an error when I try to access the page.

I lived in Eastern Europe at some point, it's beautiful - everybody should go to Prague at least once and I hear Gdansk is amazing. Of course there is Dubrovnik, arguably the most beautiful and least known European city.

On the surface, I don't like this idea because I have a feeling it has to do with money and backhanded deals made by post-Communist still-corrupt governments who are thinking short term only, but as I say, that's my surface opinion and I'd like to read more on it.
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Old 08-04-2003, 05:40 PM   #3
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here it is from a different source, i think

U.S. military in Europe: The Pentagon's Eastern obsession
Lawrence J. Korb NYT
Saturday, August 2, 2003



NEW YORK The Pentagon is smitten with Romania. And Poland. And Bulgaria, too. The Defense Department is considering closing many, if not all, of its bases in Western Europe - which are primarily in Germany - and to shift its troops to spartan new sites in the former Soviet bloc.

Already we are told that the 1st Armored Division, now on the ground in Iraq, will not return to the bases in Germany it left in April. And General James Jones, head of the European Command, said last month that all 26 army and air force installations in Germany, except for the air force base at Ramstein, might be closed. In effect this could mean transferring five army brigades, about 25,000 troops, to the East.

Supporters of this proposal argue that this has nothing to do with pique at longtime U.S. allies for their opposition to the Iraq war, but that the move would save money and enable American forces to move more rapidly to remote hot spots in the Middle East and Central Asia. Both of these claims are unfounded.

It costs the Pentagon about $7 billion a year to maintain its German bases. Ramstein, the biggest, costs about $1 billion - so the others average only about $240 million each, or the same as a single F/A-22 fighter jet. Moreover, the costs of constructing these bases were paid long ago - most were built during the cold war with German money.

To move its forces to Eastern Europe the United States will still have to build bases or upgrade existing ones - these facilities, built in the Soviet era, are crumbling and out of date. Many have severe environmental problems like unexploded ordnance and toxic waste, including old chemical weapons.

Moreover, although the cost of living in East Europe is lower than in Germany, it is unlikely that these countries will contribute to the maintenance of U.S. bases - as Germany has been doing to the tune of $1 billion a year. Finally, as we have seen with American domestic efforts at downsizing, closing bases takes time and money - in America it has taken at least five years and as many as eight to recoup the costs of the shutdown.

Some supporters of the plan also say that the move would save money because soldiers who have wives and children in Germany would not bring families along to the East. This is a poor argument on two grounds. For one, expensive new housing and schools would have to be built in the United States to accommodate the families and, more important, it would have a dreadful effect on morale.

Soldiers sent to Eastern Europe on a routine six-month deployment may well end up being deployed to the Middle East or Central Asia for extended periods, and could then be separated from their families for as long as 18 months. This would lower retention and thus substantially increase training costs.

The strategic rationale behind the move is as spurious as the cost-efficiency one. Yes, Eastern Europe is a bit closer than Germany is to the Middle East and Central Asia, and thus soldiers there could fly to the hot spots more quickly. But this is an advantage only for the very lightest of military operations.

Most heavy armaments like tanks and artillery have to be moved by ship from the United States. And any such equipment America might have at the Eastern European bases would have to move by rail or truck to seaports on transportation networks far inferior to those the United States can use now in Western Europe.

If the proximity to the Middle East is the rationale for the move, why does the military still plan to keep 12,000 troops in Britain, which is even farther from these volatile regions?

Since moving to new bases would not save money or improve America's strategic flexibility, there must be another motive. If it is being done to punish "Old Europe" over Iraq, it will be a case of the Bush administration cutting off its nose to spite its face.

The writer, director of national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1985.
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Old 08-04-2003, 06:52 PM   #4
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I think it's a good idea to move the bases. If the host countries do not want us there or need us there, then we should take our bases elsewhere.
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Old 08-04-2003, 06:58 PM   #5
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Korb presents a number of arguments without a key piece of evidence - the cost of establishing/maintaining the new bases.



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Old 08-05-2003, 02:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by wolfwill23
I think it's a good idea to move the bases. If the host countries do not want us there or need us there, then we should take our bases elsewhere.
It's not that the host countries (mostly Germany) don't want the US bases. It seems more that the USA don't want to be working with countries that don't immediately say 'yes' to everything the USA wants.

BTW, why is it suddenly 'Old Europe'. Does that mean it is also 'Ancient USA', like in dinosaur?
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Old 08-05-2003, 03:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Popmartijn
BTW, why is it suddenly 'Old Europe'. Does that mean it is
also 'Ancient USA', like in dinosaur?
ah marty, of course b/c 'old europe' is a bit 'passť'. it doesnt meet the requirements of a fresh and young society anymore, such as boldly be a guardian to the world order. unlike some dynamic and highly evoloving states as latvia or rumania, which are gladly to play a part in the great masterplan of how the world should be run best.
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Old 08-05-2003, 08:05 AM   #8
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Yeah, maybe. But the USA is older than the nations they're addressing as 'Old Europe'. I mean France (French Republic)? Only after the defeat of Napoleon do they have the current form of state. Germany? Around 1890 does it more or less have the same geographical region as modern day Germany (and its current form of state only exists since the end of WWII).
Belgium (another of those 'rebelleous' nations who did not want the war)? Only in 1830 did it separate itself from the Netherlands.

So if those nations are old, what should we think of the USA, since it exists in its current form much longer than those two states.

C ya!

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Old 08-28-2003, 10:32 AM   #9
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I think the Closing of the US Military bases in germany would be ok - the other 3 nations who had bases in germany left allready years ago.

But if they leave i'd ask them to leave completely - including Bad Aibling

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