The Bush Admin orchestrated the largest reform of America’s military posture since 1991


Isolationists who wish to withdraw all American troops from all American countries around the world ignore the fact that the Bush Admin orchestrated the largest reform of America’s military posture since 1991.

“On August 16, 2004, the Bush Administration announced a proposal to
significantly alter the U.S. overseas military basing posture. The proposal would, if
implemented, establish new overseas operating sites, and transfer up to 70,000 U.S.
troops, plus 100,000 family members and civilians, from Europe and Asia back to the
United States. The Administration argues that current U.S. global basing arrangements
are a product of World War II and the Korean War. With the end of the Cold War, these
basing arrangements need to be updated to ensure that U.S. forces are optimally
positioned to respond to potential 21st-Century military threats. The Administration’s
proposal has received mixed reactions from non-DOD observers. A May 2004
Congressional Budget Office report raises questions concerning the potential cost
effectiveness of changing the current Army overseas basing posture. The
Administration’s proposal raises several potential oversight issues for Congress. This
report will be updated as necessary.
Introduction and Issue for Congress
On August 16, 2004, President Bush announced a proposal to significantly alter the
U.S. overseas military basing posture. The proposal would establish new overseas
operating sites, and transfer up to 70,000 U.S. troops, plus 100,000 family members and
civilians, from Europe and Asia back to the continental United States (CONUS). The
issue for Congress is whether to approve, modify, or reject the Bush Administration’s
proposal. Budget and oversight decisions that Congress makes on this issue could have
significant political and diplomatic implications. Decisions could also significantly affect
U.S. military capabilities, Department of Defense (DOD) funding requirements, and the
upcoming 2005 round of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
The Administration’s Proposal. Implementing the Administration’s proposal
would bring about the most profound reordering of U.S. military troops overseas in about
50 years. The proposal calls for the transfer of up to 70,000 U.S. troops, plus 100,000
family members and civilians, from a number of overseas main operating bases in
Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The Administration would then establish new
secondary and tertiary facilities — called forward operating sites and cooperative security
locations, respectively — in various new locations around the world. In contrast to main
operating bases, which have permanently stationed forces and family support structures,
forward operating sites would be maintained by a limited number of military personnel
and might have some stored equipment. These sites would host rotational forces and be
a focus for bilateral and regional training. Cooperative security locations, would be “bare
bones” sites maintained by contractors or host-nation personnel, with little or no
permanent U.S. presence. These locations would provide contingency access and be a
focal point for regional access. Forward operating sites and cooperative security locations
would supplement main operating bases and act as “lily pads” to facilitate the rapid
deployment of U.S. forces to various parts of the world.
Examples of main operating bases include Ramstein Air Base Germany and Camp
Humphreys in South Korea. Examples of forward operating sites include Soto Cano Air
Base in Honduras and Thumrait and Masirah Island air bases in Oman. Examples of
cooperative security locations include the air base at Dakar, Senegal, and the airport at
Entebbe, Uganda. U.S. officials have reportedly held talks on establishing new operating
sites with Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Sao Tome and
Principe (off the coast of Africa), Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore.2
At a September 23, 2004, hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the proposed transfer of 70,000 troops
back to CONUS would be completed over a period of six to eight years. To date,
Administration officials have proposed regional plans for Europe, Asia and the Pacific,
and the Western Hemisphere and Africa.
Europe. The Administration’s proposal would transfer up to 40,000 Europeanbased
U.S. troops, mostly from the Army, to CONUS. The U.S. Army Commander in
Europe, General B. B. Bell, has stated that he envisions most of the 40,000 troops coming
from the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Armored Division, which are currently based in
Germany. Additional troops to be withdrawn would come from Corps and Theater-level
support units. Bell stated that he wants to transfer a new Army Stryker brigade to the
Army’s training center at Grafenwöhr, Germany, where new barracks and family housing
are being built. Under the Administration’s proposal, U.S. units permanently based in the
United States would periodically deploy for training to forward operating sites in Eastern
Europe.
Asia and the Pacific. In addition to consolidating headquarters and facilities in
Japan and Korea, the Administration’s basing proposal would involve creating new
“nodes” for U.S. special operations forces and “multiple access avenues” for deploying
U.S. troops in to contingencies in the region. DOD officials have stated that 12,500
troops would be withdrawn from South Korea, with the first 5,000 to be withdrawn by the
end of 2004, another 3,000 in 2005, another 2,000 in 2006, and the final 2,500 in 2007-
2008.3 Of the 5,000 to be withdrawn this year, 3,700 of the Army troops will come from
the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which have already been deployed to Iraq. DOD
reportedly is also considering transferring additional U.S. military forces to non-CONUS
bases in the Pacific region. Navy Admiral Thomas Fargo, chief of U.S. Pacific
Command, has proposed that Army Stryker brigades, along with Air Force C-17 transport
aircraft and high-speed transport ships, may be transferred to Alaska and Hawaii. He also
stated that an aircraft carrier strike group may be transferred forward in the Pacific, as
well as, Air Force bombers and Navy submarines being transferred to Guam, which is a
U.S. territory.4
Western Hemisphere and Africa. DOD’s proposal envisions a diverse array
of smaller cooperative locations for contingency access. These locations could be
important to an increased U.S. presence due to the spread of radical Islam, an AIDS
epidemic, a tenuous transition of power in Guinea, and the potential instability in oil-rich
Nigeria. In addition to Sao Tome and Principe (off the coast of Africa), potential host
nations in Africa that have been mentioned include Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Senegal,
South Africa, and Uganda.5
Administration Rationale. The Administration’s proposal is the result of a
review of U.S. global military basing arrangements that began in mid-2001, preceding the
attack of September 11. Administration officials say that the global posture review can
trace its origins to the 2001 Report of the statutory Quadrennial Defense Review, as well
as the National Security Strategy of 2002. Administration officials began the review out
of a concern that current U.S. basing arrangements are pre-dominantly a legacy of the U.S.
involvement in World War II and the Korean War. They believe these basing
arrangements are not optimal for responding to future military challenges in other
geographical regions. They further believe that changes that have been made in U.S.
global military basing arrangements since the end of the Cold War have simply reduced
the numbers of U.S. military forces stationed at principal overseas locations, while not
adequately reviewing whether these locations are still appropriate.
Reactions To Administration Proposal. The Administration’s proposal has
received mixed reactions from Congress and outside observers. Congress has held several
hearings to examine the Administration’s proposal. Congressional hearings have been
held by the House Armed Services Committee, the most recent being held on June 23, 2004, and the Senate Armed Services Committee, the most recent being held on
September 23, 2004. Congress also established the Overseas Basing Commission, which
has held three meetings thus far, the most recent being held on November 9, 2004.6
Though global posture review was not the Commission’s intended task, this Commission
has held two hearings to discuss the Administration’s proposal and its impact on the
overseas basing structure. It has become apparent that some analysts agree with the
Administration’s logic and support the overall proposal, while others have expressed
concerns.
Michael O’Hanlon, of the Brookings Institute, expressed some concerns about the
proposal, stating that DOD consultations with the State Department, Congress, and U.S.
allies have been belated and insufficient, allowing misperceptions about the proposal to
grow. He stated that some of the Administration’s proposed changes for the basing of
Army units, if taken too far, could worsen the current deployment strains being
experienced by the Army as it sustains deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
The Administration’s proposal, he stated, does not sufficiently reduce Marine Corps
forces on Okinawa, where 20,000 Marines are based on a densely populated island — a
situation that has led to local political opposition and put the broader U.S. military base
network in Japan at some risk. A reduced presence of 5,000 to 7,000 Marines in
Okinawa, he said, would be more appropriate.
Lawrence Korb, of the Center for American Progress, stated that developing new
global basing arrangements should be part of an overall process for developing a national
security strategy. In most cases, he stated, it is less expensive to base troops overseas than
in the United States, particularly when host countries underwrite some of the costs
involved, and that closing overseas bases will not save money unless the troops serving
overseas are demobilized. He also stated that U.S. troops serving overseas as a group act
as excellent ambassadors for the values we are trying to promote around the world, and
that when closing bases overseas, it is important that it be done in concert with our allies
and host nations.
Dr. John Hamre, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and now president of the
Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated that the DOD has not adequately
studied how realigning the forces abroad can be used to strategically shape the
international environment in the coming decades. “It appears to me that the kinds of
changes to U.S. military posture that DOD is contemplating today are driven by
operational expediency, rather than strategy.” He continued his testimony by stating:
“The problem with this is that, in order to be sustainable over the long-term, U.S. bases
overseas must be part of an overall political, diplomatic, and strategic framework.”7 Dr. Hamre also expressed concern that status of forces agreements (SOFAs) can take up to
five years to negotiate. He thought these SOFAs would be challenging, especially until
the U.S. has reached an understanding with the new hosts on the nature of the relationship
and the rights and responsibilities of each party.
Ambassador Hunter, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, advised the Overseas
Basing Commission to examine several criteria in making recommendations on the
overseas basing, such as the efficiency and effectiveness of supporting foreign military
operations from the U.S., the value of contingency basing overseas, the cost and needs of
forces deployed abroad, and the ability of political and military organizations to work
together to prevent conflicts. He asked the commission to also evaluate the “total
mission” requirements of the U.S., as opposed to the “total force” needs of the military.
CBO Report On Army Overseas Basing. The Congressional Budget Office
study, Options for Changing the Army’s Overseas Basing, dated May 2004, examined
seven alternatives for changing the Army’s overseas basing arrangements in Europe and
South Korea. The report concluded the following:
Because the United States has invested heavily over the past 50 years in base
infrastructure for its troops stationed overseas, any major shifting of forces — either
between overseas locations or to the United States — would require significant
spending to provide that infrastructure somewhere else.
There would be limited annual savings to offset the large initial investment
needed to restation U.S. forces, unless U.S. presence overseas was greatly reduced.
In that case, annual savings could exceed $1 billion, but the net up-front investment
would be substantial — on the order of $7 billion.
Restationing Army forces would produce, at best, only small improvements in
the United States’ ability to respond to far-flung conflicts. The reason is that
deploying Army units to many potential trouble spots from the likely locations of new
bases would not be significantly faster than deploying them from current bases.
Bringing forces that are permanently stationed in Europe and South Korea back
to the continental United States (CONUS) and maintaining a presence in those regions
through unit rotations would reduce the need for infrastructure overseas. It would also
reduce instability in Army units by lessening the extent to which soldiers come and
go, thus potentially enhancing unit cohesion. But maintaining the current level of
overseas presence with unit rotations would limit the forces available for other
operations — including the occupation of Iraq — and could hurt retention in the Army
by increasing family separation.
If large numbers of forces were relocated from overseas, the need for additional
basing in CONUS for tens of thousands of personnel could preclude some of the
closings that might otherwise occur as part of the 2005 round of base realignments and
closures (BRAC).” – http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RS21975.pdf

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