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U.S. Army to pull back 2 brigades from Europe

(Xinhua)

13:56, January 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that the Army will withdraw two brigade combat teams from Europe, and replace them with rotational units.

The change is part of a new, 10-year defense strategy announced by U.S.President Barack Obama last week that "emphasizes air-sea doctrine to better allow the U.S. to confront more than one threat at a time," Panetta said during an interview with the American Forces Press Service.

The rotational deployments mean the military "will be in a position to cover not only the area that will be a primary focus ... but we will be able to cover the world," he said.

The change means rotational forces -- the way Army Special Forces currently deploy -- will expand to conventional forces.

As the Army replaces the two brigade combat teams with rotational units, the Europeans actually will see more U.S. forces because the American forces in Europe have more often than not been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, Panetta said.

Last week, Obama unveiled a new military strategy that aims to strengthen military presence in the Asia Pacific region despite fiscal constraints, adjusting troops structure to a new era of austerity.

The strategy directs the U.S. military to rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region, and calls for an evolved U.S. presence in Europe. It says European countries have become "producers" of security rather than "consumers."

Force structure will come down in the years to come, the secretary said, but the military will continue to be able to engage in the full range of conflicts even with spending 487 billion U.S. dollars less over the next 10 years.

The Army will get smaller, but the reduction will be slow and balanced as recommended by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, Panetta said.

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