In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered a gradual withdrawal of 62,000 troops from Europe to 24,000 by the end of 2008. However, based on the advice of two U.S. Army generals, Gates has frozen the reduction in order to maintain some 40,000 soldiers there, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock, the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, and Gen. David McKiernan, who is in charge of Army forces there, were the proponents of maintaining the current levels, based in part on the economics of housing and moving costs, the report said. As well, Craddock said there were concerns over responsibility fulfillment.
"I told the staff, I want you to study whether or not we have adequate capability to accomplish the tasks we've been assigned by the department," Craddock told the Times. "We did that. The result was it appears we do not. I then sent a recommendation to the secretary of defense."