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The United States has announced plans to put off the withdrawal of troops stationed in Europe by keeping two brigades in Germany for an additional two years for military and financial reasons.
Troops' marching orders to leave Germany have been temporarily postponed
The Pentagon's decision to slow down its troop withdrawal came in response to requests from top commanders to maintain US military personnel in Europe around the 40,000 mark.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Head of US European Command, Gen. Bantz Craddock had appealed to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to keep two brigades on in Germany in order to support operations including NATO's mission in Afghanistan.
Vice chief of staff for the army, Richard Cody, confirmed that Washington would be retaining "two heavy brigade combat teams" in Germany "to meet the near-term theater security requirements."
Speaking at a press conference, spokesman for the Pentagon, Geoff Morrell stressed that the decision was only temporary.
The brigades, each 3,500-strong, are now expected to be relocated to Texas in 2012 and 2013.
Military and financial considerations
Morrell recently said that in maintaining a military presence in Europe, the US would be signaling to the rest of the world that it was globally engaged with its allies, despite ongoing military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
US soldiers patrol the streets of Baghdad, Iraq
But financial considerations also contributed to the decision. With insufficient military accommodation available for the thousands of returning troops, it would cost the army millions to set them up in temporary housing.
The drawdown of US troops began two years ago in keeping with a plan drawn up by Gates' predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld. The idea was to reduce the 62,000 US soldiers then stationed in Europe to just 24,000 by the end of 2008.