ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department cannot, as has been rumored, bring
Europe based military personnel deployed in
Iraq straight back to the United
States in 2004 because of the pending Base Realignment And Closure program, a
senior defense official said Friday.
Any such return of Europe-based forces will likely not happen until 2006, the
"BRAC makes it difficult to move your forces where you want them to go [in
the United States], if you don't want them overseas," the official told
Pentagon reporters Friday.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has called for a fifth BRAC round in order
to jettison what he says is 20 percent in excess base capacity. Such a move
would save the government about $6.5 billion annually, according to estimates
the Pentagon gave Congress in January 2003.
Congress agreed last year to go through the painful process in 2005.
At the same time, Pentagon officials are involved in a Global Defense Posture
Review of all overseas military facilities that could result in the shuttering
of some long-established U.S. military bases in Europe and a return of their
units to the United States.
"There might be countries we will pull all of our forces out of," other
countries where some forces will leave; and still others, "including some
countries in the former Soviet bloc," where the United States will establish
new bases, the official said.
Europe-based military members who are in Iraq or soon to leave have expressed
concern that the Pentagon will close their home bases while their units are
still deployed, leaving their families to make the move back to the United
But the global review "is connected to BRAC," the official said, because BRAC
rules expressly prohibit any Pentagon or service action that would signal —
intentionally or not — preference for any particular base.
"You cannot tip your hand" regarding favored bases, and BRAC won't be
finished until the end of 2005.
"So the first time we'll have a really good feel [for the global
reorganization plan] is 2006," the official said.
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