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U.S. to Withdraw 70,000 Troops Based Overseas

August 15, 2004|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to withdraw about 70,000 U.S. troops from Europe and Asia in a major restructuring of military forces prompted by the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the war on terrorism, U.S. officials said Saturday.

President Bush will unveil the realignment in a speech Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The president is going to make an announcement about a major initiative to reduce the burden on our forces overseas," one of the U.S. officials said.

The officials confirmed a report in the Financial Times of a total reduction of about 70,000 troops in U.S. deployments overseas. The British newspaper, citing people briefed on the plan, said two-thirds of the reductions would be in Europe, mostly in Germany.

There are more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Europe, including about 70,000 in Germany; and 100,000 in the Pacific region and Asia. About 150,000 troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A senior administration official traveling with Bush in Portland, Ore., said the president would "be discussing next week how the United States will structure its military capabilities to meet the threats of the 21st century with new technologies and new capabilities."

"This is not a diminished commitment to our allies or to our responsibilities in the world," another official said.

The U.S. announced this year that it was removing about 12,500 of the 37,000 troops in South Korea and sending many of them to Iraq or Afghanistan. One U.S. official said, however, that some of those troops could be returned to South Korea.

The proposed move includes plans to use bases in Eastern European countries of the former Soviet bloc as transit points to send U.S. forces to trouble spots such as the Middle East and northern Africa.

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