Congressmen question US troop presence in Europe and funding for NATO missile defense

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon (R-CA)

From Philip Ewing, DODBuzz:  Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman asked (EUCOM commander, Adm. James] Stavridis how many American troops would remain on the Continent after commanders withdraw about 12,000, as now envisioned. That would leave about 68,000, he was told. We should look at taking them all out, Coffman said — is there a NATO treaty requirement that Americans be based in Europe? No there is not, Stavridis answered, although he supports the relationships and strategic value of having a presence there.

HASC Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon also questioned the ongoing U.S. priorities toward Europe in his opening statement.

“I’m worried about the decisions being made for the ‘sake of efficiencies and budget’ that change our force posture in Europe but neglect our commitment to regional allies and stability,” he said. “I also want to highlight my continuing concerns about President Obama’s missile defense strategy. It appears the United States is spending $4 on regional missile defense, like the European Phased Adaptive Approach, for every $1 it is spending on homeland defense. What’s more, European missile defense will be a ‘national contribution’ to NATO, meaning the cost will be borne entirely by the U.S. at a time when most of NATO is failing to meet even the 2% of GDP threshold for NATO membership.”

Depending on the way you measure it, as few as four NATO members and as many as eight — of 28 nations — are meeting their commitments to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense, Stavridis said. He told lawmakers he tells the Euro-allies every chance he gets that they need to step it up, because there’s no guarantee for how much longer the U.S. can backstop the alliance.  (photo: John Shinkle/POLITICO)

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