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American troops massing near former Soviet republics

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    The following news analysis by Esther Schrader of The Los Angeles Times appeared on page A24 of the Sunday, 4 May 2003 edition of The Arizona Republic. The
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2003
      The following news analysis by Esther Schrader of The Los Angeles Times
      appeared on page A24 of the Sunday, 4 May 2003 edition of The Arizona
      Republic. The heroic resistance fighters of Iraq may well be defending
      far more than their own country's independence or even that of the Arab
      world in general. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations have expressed
      an interest in a "regime change" in Belarus, and this appears to be a step
      towards that.

      --Kevin Walsh

      U.S. SHIFTS TROOPS TO EASTERN EUROPE FROM WEST

      Washington--Fueled by resentment over the opposition of "Old Europe" to the
      war in Iraq, the Pentagon is accelerating plans to move tens of thousands
      of U.S. troops out of bases in Germany and to establish bases in the former
      East Bloc contries of Hungary, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

      The first concrete evidence of the shift is the movement of the army's
      17,000-strong First Armored Division, which largely deployed to Iraq from
      bases in Germany but will not return there, senior military officials said.

      Spanning The Globe

      With the Pentagon's recent expansion across Central Asia, the move into
      Eastern Europe means the U.S. military will span the globe as never before.

      "If you want to talk about suns not setting on empires, you know, the Brits
      had nothing compared to this," said John Pike, a defense analyst with
      GlobalSecurity.org, an intelligence and military policy think tank based in
      Alexandria, Virginia.

      But even as the Pentagon proposes deploying troops to new places, it
      envisions more temporary deployments, allowing larger numbers of troops to
      be based in the United States.

      More than 112,000 U.S. troops are based in Europe, 80 percent of them are
      scattered around Germany. But with some Western European nations
      increasingly reluctant to house U.S. troops and with formerly communist
      countries signing up for NATO and eager to host the Americans, Pentagon
      officials say change is imminent.

      The move also is being driven by the vision of Defense Secretary Donald
      Rumsfeld--who coined the dismissive "Old Europe" tag when France and
      Germany balked at supporing the Iraq war--for a leaner, faster military.
      Moving out of some of the hundreds of small, scattered U.S. military
      installations in Europe and into the countries along or near the Black Sea
      coast would make it faster to get troops to potential hot spots in the
      Middle East and areas of Africa.

      "Why do we need a joint force to be in Germany, where there's nothing
      happening?" a senior military official said. "You have to have troops close
      to ports and airfields that are closer to the action. And you also want
      to have them in a place where people agree with what you're doing, so they
      don't shut down ports and they don't shut down airfields."

      Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University professor of strategic studies who is
      highly influential with senior Bush administration officials said, "The U.S.
      is the staggering military power, and the fact is, the Russians lost the
      Cold War." [I'll leave readers to speculate on Dr. Cohen's religion or group
      affiliation. --Kevin]

      Initial Pentagon plans call for building U.S. bases at Sarafovo airfield in
      Bulgaria and the nearby Black Sea port of Burgas, where U.S. KC-135
      refueling tanker aircraft and more than 200 troops were based during the
      Iraq war.

      U.S. facilities also will be built at the Romanian air base of Mihail
      Kogalniceanu and the nearby Black Sea port of Costanta, both of which
      were used to ferry troops and equipment into Iraq.

      The Pentagon also plans to take over vast military training grounds and
      firing ranges, all once used by the Soviet armed forces, in Hungary and
      Poland.

      Some Bases To Remain

      Major U.S. bases in Germany and Italy, including the largest facilities in and
      around Ramstein Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany, would remain, although
      they will house fewer troops. "This is a purposeful effort to possibly
      leave places where they may not want us or they are snubbing us," another
      senior military official said. "The Eastern Bloc countries have reached out
      to us. They are not looking for outright bribes like some countries did
      recently that shall go unnamed [Turkey, --Kevin]. They are looking for a
      partnership."
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