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August 14, 2004
Auf Wiedersehen, Gerhardt

The Financial Times in London reports that the US plans on substantial reductions in its military deployments in Europe as part of a global repositioning of American military forces. 70,000 troops -- the bulk of the shift -- will leave Germany, in a move that will no doubt heavily impact the German economy just in time for Gerhardt Schroeder's re-election:

The US is expected to announce on Monday that it is pulling 70,000 troops out of Europe and Asia in the largest restructuring of its global military presence since the second world war.

People briefed on the plan say two-thirds of the reductions will come in Europe, most of them military personnel stationed in Germany who will be sent back to US bases.

An additional 100,000 support staff and military families worldwide will be part of the realignment.

Some of the forces being moved are coming out of Korea, but those troops have already been earmarked for Iraq. The rest will come home to the US, along with the large civilian contingent of support jobs and dependents. The support jobs used to be filled by civilians, and the dependents used to spend their money in German shops and stores. Make no mistake -- George Bush is sending a message to the Germans, and in case they don't get it the first time around, there are still more troops, more specialties that can be pulled out later on.

Of course, the DoD says this has nothing to do with Germany's opposition to just about any initiative coming from the US over the past four years:

The Bush administration has been re-evaluating the US military's global posture almost since its first days in office. Senior Pentagon officials emphasised that the move was not intended as a punishment for Germany's lack of support in the Iraq war.

If you buy that, I have swampland in Florida to sell you too. I believe Schroeder will be standing for re-election again in 2005. When German shops see their business drop off and start having to close, do you think the Germans will still be as enthusiastic about their Chancellor's nose-thumbing towards the US?

Moving our troops makes good sense, militarily and economically, for the US. The German-heavy deployment represents a strategy that is at least fifteen years out of date. Moving them now makes good strategic sense, too, as allowing the Germans to show us up diplomatically without any consequences only encourages more of that behavior later on -- a nuance that I feel sure John Kerry won't grasp at all. (Hat tip to reader Retired Military)

UPDATE: Ach du lieber! I've corrected the spelling on the post title. Big hat tip to Ann and her blog.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 14, 2004 12:51 AM

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