US Military to Keep European Command in Germany | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 20.08.2004
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US Military to Keep European Command in Germany

The US plans to maintain a key military presence in Germany even after it completes its troop restructuring. Three new brigades will come to Germany despite plans for a broad withdrawal of Cold War-era deployments.

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Wald says new troops will come to Germany

Senior US commander General Charles Wald said the United States will keep its European Command in Germany, adding three new brigades -- a new, mobile brigade using lighter Stryker armored vehicles, a paratrooper brigade, and an expeditionary brigade. Each brigade will number between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

"The real issue is not the percentage of troops leaving, so much as there will still be a significant capability left here, and it will be transformed to be more mobile, more light, and more responsive," Wald said at a news conference at European Command headquarters in Stuttgart.

Wald also said some bases in Germany, such as the Ramstein air base in the west of the country, would be expanded, despite plans to withdraw some 30,000 troops currently stationed here. Another base at Spangdahlem, home to two US F-16 squadrons, will remain as well, Wald said.

US President George W. Bush announced the withdrawal on Monday, as part of plans to completely restructure US military deployments around the world to better fight terrorism.

Stryker location to be decided

Wald said the location of the Stryker brigade still needs to be negotiated with the German government, though there are rumors that it will be based at the US training range near the Bavarian town of Grafenwöhr.

The withdrawal of thousands of soldiers from the two heavy divisions in Germany -- the 1st Armored based in Wiesbaden and the 1st Infantry based in Würzburg -- will not happen before 2006, so that the views of the German government can be heard, Wald said.

The news of the withdrawals caused dismay in many of the communities that evolved around the US army bases, as the livelihoods of many German residents depend on the soldiers' presence.

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