Future of overseas bases under Congressional attack

U.S. Army commander in Europe, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling

From Catherine Cheney and Charles Hoskinson, POLITICO:  [D]uring the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for Ashton Carter to be deputy defense secretary, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) put it bluntly, “For our economy, it’s better for those troops to be in the United States, spending their wealth and creating tax growth for the local communities and jobs.

And responding, Carter noted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s pledge that “everything” was on the table. . . .

The U.S. Army commander in Europe, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, was in Washington earlier this month to explain the benefits of the U.S. presence there to lawmakers, though he made a point of saying he was not advocating a particular side in the debate. . . .

But it’s clear that Hertling believes his troops play a key role in preventing future conflict, mainly by working directly with European partners on a day-to-day basis and training them to meet both present and future threats. He notes that the 40,000 allied troops fighting in Afghanistan were trained by soldiers under his command for the mission, and their presence means fewer Americans deployed.

“We’re actually … getting more bang for the buck by helping train our allies to fight alongside us,” Hertling told POLITICO.

The biggest benefit is from the forward basing of what Hertling calls “enablers”: communications, intelligence and logistic units that add value to allied forces and are still playing a role in NATO’s Libya operation. . . .”

Meanwhile, at Ramstein, where thousands of wounded U.S. troops have passed through on their way home for treatment from Afghanistan and Iraq, Noe has a hard time imagining working with less staff.

If you draw a circle from the United States and another circle from Iraq and Afghanistan — in terms of where planes need to refuel and aircrews need to rest — those circles would “overlap right over Germany,” he said.  (photo: U.S. Army Europe)

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