politics, history and the war on terror
Friday, June 04, 2004
The Protection Racket 

Since the end of the Cold War, the positioning of America's overseas military deployments has come into question, yet very little was done to address the concerns. While the Army was reduced from 20 divisions to 10, the commitment to defend Europe, South Korea, Japan and other nations did not change, and a large percentage of American troops remained overseas. But 9/11 and subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq has created an urgency to review the long overlooked problem of deployments in Europe and Southeast Asia. It appears over the last month the Department of Defense has decided to radically overhaul its overseas commitments and will reduce America's presence. Thursday's New York Times reports that the size of the American military presence in Europe will be dramatically decreased:

The Pentagon has proposed a plan to withdraw its two Army divisions from Germany and undertake an array of other changes in its European-based forces, in the most significant rearrangement of the American military around the world since the beginning of the cold war, according to American and allied officials. Pentagon policy makers said the aim is to afford maximum flexibility in sending forces to the Middle East, Central Asia and other potential battlegrounds.

Last May, the United States announced it would redeploy a brigade (one of the two in country) from South Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan and that these troops may not return to South Korea:

The United States will reassign some troops from South Korea to Afghanistan and Iraq and shift most of the 7,000 people in its headquarters in Seoul out of the capital beginning within a year, military officials say. The moves are part of a gradual disengagement of U.S. land forces from Korea and a greater reliance on sea power to maintain the American security posture in Asia.


The European nations and South Korean must also shoulder the responsibility for their own defense. The combined European defense expenditures equal about 1.9% of GDP, South Korea commitment to military expenditures is about 2.5% and the United States 3.1%. The combined nations of Europe have a population and GDP that exceeds the United States, yet they rely on American protection over sixty years after the liberation of Europe. The fact that certain European nations, such as France, Germany and Belgium, have been unsupportive both in the military and diplomatic efforts of America in Iraq and elsewhere does not make the argument for continued American presence any easier.

While the reduction in troops in Asia and Europe made lead to reduced influence in these regions, the security concerns of America must be first and foremost in the minds of American policy makers. It is important to support and maintain American interests and democracy in Europe and South Korea, but the current threats America faces are mainly located in the Middle East and Central Asia. America's current posture prevents it from adequately using its existing forces. Barring a dramatic increase in the number of active duty Army divisions (which would take years to raise, train and equip anyway) the United States has no choice but to redistribute its forces to better suit the existing security situation.


Update:

Germany is on the list for troop deductions and redeployments as well.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:35 AM

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