President Bush Proposes Major Troop Shift
Some of the troops would be moved to posts in Eastern Europe while others would be based in the United States, available for deployment overseas, White House officials said, according to the Associated Press.
The announcement follows years of debate over how U.S. troops should be positioned to respond to modern-day threats such as terrorism and continued unrest in the Middle East.
“Our armed forces have changed a lot. … They’re better able to strike anywhere in the world … on short notice. Yet for decades America’s armed forces have essentially remained where the wards of the last century have ended — in Europe and in Asia,” President Bush said at a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati, the AP reported.
Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts plans to address the group on Wednesday.
The troop repositioning also will involve about 100,000 family members and civilian employees, the president said.
The plan includes moving troops to locations where they could quickly deal with unexpected threats, said Mr. Bush. Poland and Turkey have been named as possible locations for additional troops.
The move, which will likely occur over the next decade, will help save money on maintaining bases overseas, the president said.
“Our service members will have more time on the home front, and more predictability and fewer moves over a career,” he added.
The plan does not include moving forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, where about 150,000 U.S. troops are deployed.
Kerry has said he would try to withdraw some troops from Iraq during his first six months in office. That idea has drawn criticism from Mr. Bush, who says insurgents would merely wait until the U.S. presence thinned to attack, reported the AP.
Democrats in turn have criticized Monday’s announcement. In a statement released by the Democratic National Committee, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former presidential candidate, said the redeployment from Europe and Asia would “significantly undermine U.S. national security.”
“This ill-conceived move and its timing seem politically motivated rather than designed to strengthen our national security,” Clark said, according to CNN.