Troop deployment should be based on current situation

Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2004

Details are lacking, but the Pentagon's plan to redeploy forces now stationed in former hot spots from the Cold War is at least sensible and possibly urgent.

Thousands of troops have been stationed in Germany since the end of World War II, first to stabilize the broken country, then as a strategic counter to the expansionist aims of the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union does not exist anymore.

By the same token, the decision to cut the number of U.S. troops in South Korea by a third about 12,000 is an affirmation of the reality that Seoul's forces are now capable, with the help of American air power, of defending the country.

The threat the United States and its Western allies face today is more likely to come from the Middle East or Central Asia. If the nation is going to station forces in foreign lands, it should be based on existing conditions, not a memory of decades gone by. ...If the nation has fewer troops than necessary to do the job in Iraq, part of the reason is that we still have them in Germany and South Korea, as well as Japan. ... With the World Trade Center obliterated and Iraq a shooting gallery, it's hard to see how troops in Germany and South Korea serve the nation's needs in the 21st century.

The Buffalo (N.Y.) News

June 20

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