Pentagon to Reduce Military Operations Abroad
LAWRENCE L. KNUTSON
Sep. 18, 1990
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon, cutting costs as relations warm with the Soviet Union, said on Tuesday it will end operations or cut back forces at 150 military sites in 10 countries.
The reductions will take place over the next few years at sites ranging from major bases to small installations. They will begin in the new fiscal year which opens on Oct. 1.
But the Pentagon did not say how much savings it would realize or how many troops would be pulled out of the facilities, many of which U.S. forces have occupied since the end of World War II.
Nor did it provide the costs it will incur in closing the facilities, including the costs of compensating civilian employees whose services no longer will be needed.
The West German Defense Ministry said in a statement in Bonn, however, that plans call for the pullout from West Germany of ''about 60,000 U.S. soldiers to be completed by 1997,'' with the bulk of the reductions by 1993. Some 250,000 American troops now are stationed in the country.
''Ironically there are some costs associated with closing down sites,'' Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said. ''But in the long run, of course, the goal is to end operations and save money.''
Military operations will be ended at 94 sites in West Germany, 11 in Spain, nine in South Korea, three each in Greece, Italy, England and Australia and one in Japan, said Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams.
The United States will also reduce its forces at 14 sites in West Germany, three in South Korea, two in Spain and at one site each in Italy, Japan, Canada and Bermuda.
While some of the sites involve small or minor facilities, operations will be ended at three major bases, two in West Germany and one in Spain.
They are the Torrejon Air Force Base in Spain, and the Hessich Oldendorf Air Base and the Lindsey Air Base in West Germany.
Torrejon, just east of Madrid, was made obsolete in 1988 when Spain demanded that the United States withdraw its 401st Tactical Wing of 72 F-16 jet fighters, approximately 3,600 troops and 600 civilians.
Italy has agreed to provide a new home for the wing at Crotone, a still to be constructed base that has come under attack on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have complained about the feasibility of building a new facility when other bases are begin shut down.
''In reviewing our needs for forces in the mid-1990s, and in light of declining defense budgets, we continue to identify locations overseas where we can reduce our forces,'' said Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in a statement.
''As we draw down the overall size of the force, it is essential that we correspondingly reduce the installations where the force is based, both in the United States and overseas,'' Cheney said.
But Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., chairwoman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on military installations and facilities, said Cheney's base closure list ''is disappointing.''
''The Defense Department claims it will close 150 sites overseas, but these sites include gas stations on the autobahn, isolated housing units, athletic fields, and sites which had long ago been slated for closure.
''Facilities like these are closed every day at bases in the United States with no DOD press release, no news conference, no hoopla.''
Last January, Cheney announced plans to consider ending military operations at 25 bases in the United States and reducing forces at more than 20 other U.S. locations.
''It's partly a matter of the obviously changing situation on the ground,'' Williams said of the altered political and military climate which made the reductions possible.
''As the threat changes in Eastern Europe, as the Soviet forces pull back, as East European governments change and become democratically elected, clearly the nature of our deployments changes as well,'' Williams said.
''The second thing you have to contend with is declining budgets in coming years,'' he said.
He said the list of sites where operations will be ended or reduced was drawn up over several months in close consultation with host governments.
Williams noted that the Pentagon cannot on its own authority close military bases in the United States.
Congressional approval is needed to do that.
But he said operations at overseas bases can be ended without the approval of Congress.