Germany: US Troops
Randy Black writes: I agree that if indeed some parts of Europe no feel the need for defense help from the USA, then by all means, the USA should reduce or pull it troops from Germany (75,000 troops), Italy (13,000), Spain (2,000) and 1,000 (Portugal). It looks as if the US will begin the reassignments next year, relocating to former Soviet Block nations and elsewhere. From reading German news reports, towns near US military facilities are already protesting the dramatic loss of business that will follow such pullouts. Expenditures by the US on behalf of its troops in Europe contributes billions of dollars annually to the European economy, but that will stop it appears.
State officials in Rhineland-Palatinate can be thankful that two of the largest bases in the region, the Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases, are not threatened with closure, even though there could be some troop reduction. The two make up the largest US military communities outside the United States, and are home to 40,000 soldiers and their dependents. A study by the University of Trier showed that the two bases alone contributed about €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) to the local economy in 2001 and support about 27,000 jobs in the region.
"That has all kinds of repercussions, especially for the economy" Dennis Phelps of the American-German Business Club told DW-WORLD. "There is a whole American infrastructure here -- American houses, American schools -- when the military pulls out, these things close. It also means that soldiers are spending money in local shops or paying local landlords rents."
Since 1945, some 17 million Americans have served tours of duty in Germany.
The district of Birkenfeld is one such area that could be hit hard. Up to 20 percent of GDP is dependent on the Baumholder military base in the region where parts of the 1st Infantry Division are now stationed. "A closure could have enormous ramifications for us," Werner Knauth, press spokesman for the district, told DW-WORLD.>>
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