The United States plans to withdraw about 7,000 US troops as part of its new 10-year defense strategy giving strategic priority to the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said two brigade combat teams, roughly 7,000 US troops, of the 81,000 troops based in Europe will be withdrawn from the continent.
“The Secretary and other senior Department officials have consulted closely with our European allies on our new strategic guidance,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little, adding that “Our security commitments to Europe and to NATO are unwavering.”
The new US defense strategy comes at a time when the US economy is facing a national debt of more than $15 trillion after a decade of costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and is preparing for 487 billion dollars in defense cuts over the next 10 years.
On January 5, US President Barack Obama announced the shift in Washington’s defense strategy to reduce the expenses. He said reductions will not be arbitrary, linear or unilateral and that the defense budget would be spent in accordance with strategic needs.
Panetta said that the US will continue to maintain its presence “both in the Middle East and Asia.”
“Yes, we’ll have the Navy and the Air Force, but in my experience, in any conflict you need to have the potential use of ground forces.”
The United States is concentrating its military might in Asia as it is alarmed over China’s growing navy and arsenal of anti-ship missiles that could threaten America’s military supremacy in the Pacific.
Meanwhile Britain has warned that Russia is also not overlooked in the US shift of position to Asia, describing the US as an ‘unpredictable force on the global stage’.