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Figuring the Costs of U.S. Troop Withdrawals from Germany

August 2, 1991

GIESSEN, Germany (AP) _ Mayor Manfred Mutz is trying to calculate the costs to his city of an American troop pullout. Edith Esser fears her Texas-Grill won’t make it without U.S. servicemen’s great-as-all-outdoors appetites.

Since the end of World War II, American troops have been stationed at Giessen and in many other German communities. Now many are going home.

″Naturally, it’s good if the world will be peaceful and the military will be reduced more and more. On the other hand, we have problems,″ said Folkert Sauer, an assistant to the mayor responsible for dealing with the implications to the city of a post-Cold War era.

Anxious city officials complain they can’t deal with the economic affects of a U.S. military pullout until they know how many troops are leaving.

″We must get a plan - how many people will be withdrawn, how many people will remain - with which we can work,″ Mutz said. ″We urgently need an overview to help the affected civilians and to overcome the negative economic effects.″

Giessen, a city of 80,000 about 30 miles north of Frankfurt, is home to about 4,000 U.S. soldiers. About 3,000 German civilians are employed by the Army and the Army and Air Force Exchange System, the military’s consumer goods supply system.

Some U.S. troop reductions at Giessen already have been announced. But on Tuesday, the Pentagon said the Army’s Pendleton Barracks here also would be reduced. Pendleton has 785 soldiers, mostly in support units, backed by more than 400 civilian employees, about 90 of them Germans, according to Army figures.

Col. James W. Becker, deputy commander of the Giessen military community, said he doesn’t know yet how many soldiers and civilians will be pulled out.

Mutz has asked to meet with the U.S. Army command in Germany to try to get a better idea of future reductions so he can try to plan for them.

Meanwhile, city planners grumble that they are being given only piecemeal information.

Other military cutbacks announced in Washington on Tuesday targeted Tempelhof airport and units in Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Goeppingen and Heilbronn. By the mid 1990s, the Pentagon hopes to reduce by half the more than 300,000 U.S. troops in Europe, most of whom are in Germany.

The economic effect of a troop reduction ″is naturally problematic,″ Mutz said. New companies must be attracted to the area and new jobs found for those left unemployed by U.S. cutbacks. ″There will be a destabilizing effect,″ he added.

Among the economic sectors directly affected by the U.S. military presence are the construction and service industries.

In addition, 10 percent of property in Giessen is used by either U.S. or German forces, according to Sauer, the mayor’s assistant.

City officials say they are also having problems getting the German military to disclose how many German troops will be pulled out in connection with unification. Mutz said the city would lose 600 to 700 civilian jobs when that pullout is completed by 1994.

Meanwhile, the Texas-Grill across from Pendleton Barracks is still enjoying a brisk business. But Mrs. Esser wonders how long that will last.

American soldiers account for about 75 percent of the nighttime trade at the snack stands she and her husband own. The Americans have hearty appetites, she notes, smiling.

If they go, ″that means we’ll have a lot less turnover, a lot less,″ Mrs. Esser said. ″We hope not too many Americans will go.″

Mutz said he takes little comfort in the fact that the U.S. troop cutbacks announced so far have been limited.

″We believe that in the long term there will be no more army here,″ he said.