2 Army brigades to Europe could be cut

Jan. 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The Obama administration indicated it will cut two of the four U.S. Army brigades in Europe as part of the Pentagon's budget-cutting plan, U.S. officials said.

Pentagon officials, trying to ease concerns of European officials, have told NATO allies that the United States would rotate Army units through Europe on training missions to beef up the presence of the remaining two brigades, The Washington Post reported.

The reduction, which hasn't been formally announced, is part of a broader goal of reducing the Pentagon's budget by $487 billion during the next 10 years.

"In the briefing we've been giving the Europeans, we have made clear that there is going to be this rotational presence there that will be conducting exercises," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Post. "As a matter of fact, they will probably see more of the Americans under the new strategy because the brigades that were there were actually fighting in Afghanistan and weren't even there. … What you are going to have is two [brigades] plus this large rotational presence that is going to be there."

The U.S. military has about 80,000 military personnel deployed to Europe from all service branches. Cutting two Army brigades and non-combat support units will realize a reduction of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers, the Post said.

The reductions are part of a Pentagon plan to reduce the Army from its current 560,000 soldiers to about 490,000, defense officials said. President Obama recently announced a new defense strategy that calls for a leaner, faster and more agile military and shifts in focus toward the Asia-Pacific region.

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