v15_2004f - Eastward Bound: The Strategy and Politics of...

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79 Eastward Bound: The Strategy and Politics of Repositioning U.S. Military Bases in Europe 7 5 Todd W. Fields is a Master of Arts candidate at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University (t±elds@sais-jhu.edu). E ASTWARD B OUND : T HE S TRATEGY AND P OLITICS OF R EPOSITIONING U.S. M ILITARY B ASES IN E UROPE Todd W. Fields This article examines the strategic rationale and political im- plications of the U.S. Department of Defense’s proposal to reposition U.S. military bases in Europe. The Pentagon’s plans call for a withdrawal of U.S. bases and personnel from Ger- many and the creation of various smaller, more Fexible bases in Central and Eastern Europe. While the removal of U.S. forces from Germany is appropriate given the absence of an imminent security threat to Europe, revamping the European basing structure in the midst of current trans-Atlantic tensions presents formidable political challenges. Given the impact that base realignment is likely to have on U.S. relations with Ger- many, Russia, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United States must exercise a deft diplomatic touch—balancing the pursuit of its strategic interests with the preservation of its regional relationships and alliances. 1 The United States is presently in the midst of the most comprehensive shift in its global military presence in the last ±fty years. Driven by a desire to develop an integrated global presence that meets the security challenges of the twenty-±rst century, the U.S. military is revamping its forward bas- ing strategies in key regions throughout the world. Since September 11, 2001, new American military installations have emerged along the “arc Journal of Public and International Affairs, Volume 15/Spring 2004 Copyright © 2004, the Trustees of Princeton University http://www.princeton.edu/~jpia
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80 Todd W. Fields of instability,” stretching from Northern Africa to Southeast Asia, in countries including Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, and Iraq. Pentagon ofFcials are also hinting at the possibility of establishing future military facilities in Australia, the Philippines, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, and Mali (Jaffe 2003a). Around the globe, American military power is also on the move. The 10,000 military personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia at the height of the recent war in Iraq have been redeployed to Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. In late spring 2003, the Pentagon withdrew 2,500 of the 3,000 troops stationed at Incirlik Air ±orce Base in Turkey. Additionally, the Pentagon is currently crafting plans to pull U.S. troops out of the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea and to move the bulk of its operations on the Korean peninsula southward, out of the present range of North Korean weaponry (Demick 2003). In Europe, a signiFcant initiative to move U.S. bases in Western Europe
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v15_2004f - Eastward Bound: The Strategy and Politics of...

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