S&S - Security changes force review of European transformation plans
Stars and Stripes
Security changes force review of European transformation plans
By Kevin Dougherty, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Saturday, March 17, 2007
The U.S. military is reviewing its transformation plans for Europe because of “numerous changes in the security dynamic” since the effort began a few years ago, the commander of the U.S. European Command told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
In his opening statement, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, who heads NATO’s military arm as well as EUCOM, spoke to the committee about operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, the decision to establish a combatant command in Africa, and NATO transformation. All of the issues were either nonexistent or at a different state when EUCOM implemented its Strategic Theater Transformation plan in 2002.
Broadly speaking, the transformation plan entails closing dozens of installations, sending thousands of troops and their families back to the United States and repositioning forces to the south and east to be nearer the hot spots in this hemisphere.
Taken individually or in combination, Craddock said, numerous changes in the security dynamic “compel us to review the previous assumptions and document changes in the security and geo-political environment to determine if our planned posture fully supports the tasks and missions we have been given — to include assessments on effectiveness and efficiency.”
EUCOM, in conjunction with U.S. Army Europe, undergoing the greatest overhaul, is expected to announce in a couple of months the transformation plan for fiscal 2008, which starts in October. Darmstadt and Hanau are among the military communities bracing themselves for a formal closure announcement.
Since the beginning of the process, Craddock told the committee, EUCOM has “closed 43 bases and installations and returned approximately 10,000 servicemembers and 13,800 family members to the U.S.
“Subject to developments in the geo-political environment,” Craddock continued, “by 2012, current plans anticipate the closure of several hundred bases and installations, and the return of over 44,000 military personnel and over 57,000 family members, and the downsizing of 14,500 DOD civilians and host nation employee positions.”
Earlier this month, the general tabbed to lead the Army’s transformation efforts in Europe indicated there would be changes to the plan.
“The president recently announced a significant strengthening in the Army,” said Brig. Gen. David G. Perkins, who has been promoted to head the operations directorate for USAREUR. “It is yet to be determined what this means for USAREUR. The end-state envisioned a couple years ago is not going to be what the [actual] end-state will be.”
President Bush’s proposal to increase the size of the active-duty Army by 65,000 and the troop “surge” in Iraq are among the more recent developments that have led the military to review the transformation plan for Europe.
“I think it’s prudent that we don’t stay wedded to a plan, now that the assumptions have changed,” Perkins said at the time.
Gen. Bantz J. Craddock’s statements are available on the House Armed Services Committee Web site at: http://www.house.gov/hasc/