US troop changes in Europe
In the scope of a meeting with German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta outlined the details of upcoming US troop changes in Europe. The US Army is to cut its 170th and 172nd infantry brigades to reach an overall reduction of Europe-based service personnel from 80 000 to 70 000 in 2017. “The minister understands the necessity of the shifts we are making as we work to implement our new defence strategy while meeting our fiscal responsibilities,” Panetta said during a press briefing with his German counterpart. According to the Secretary, after the withdrawal of the two brigades, some 40 000 troops will remain in Germany.
De Maizière expressed his understanding of the US decision and highlighted that Panetta had been transparent about the Pentagon’s plans from the very beginning. De Maizière noted that “high-value” US units remain in Germany. “I believe the impact [of the units leaving] will be moderate,” he said. “Germany will remain the country where the bulk of US troops will remain stationed, and this underscores that Germany is a strategically valuable location for our American friends.” Other US troop rearrangements in Europe include the deactivation of V Corps Headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, the move of US Army Europe Headquarters from Heidelberg, Germany, to Wiesbaden, and the deactivation of the Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and of the 603rd Air Control Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
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