Since the early 1990s, the Army has reduced its force presence in Europe by bringing troops and their families back to the United States and consolidating remaining forces and infrastructure at fewer locations. In 2004, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced an overseas basing strategy that called for further decreases of U.S. forces in Europe. As a result, the Army initiated actions to reduce personnel stationed in Europe by 30,000 personnel by fiscal year 2013 and reduce the number of Army brigade combat teams in Europe from four to two. Since 2004, the Army has consolidated operational forces close to the European training facility at Grafenwoehr, Germany and at Vicenza, Italy. The consolidation included significant investments to construct new or renovate facilities at remaining bases to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families. To help offset the costs of these investments, the Army closed some bases in Germany and has planned additional closures. Amid the implementation of the Army's draw down in Europe, DOD announced in the February 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review that it would retain the four Army brigade combat teams in Europe, rather than return two to the United States as originally planned, pending the outcome of a review of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization strategic concept and ongoing U.S. defense posture reviews. The DOD announcement cast considerable uncertainty on the Army's future force structure in Europe. For instance, the Army will now retain installations to house the brigades for an indefinite period of time while decisions are made. Regardless of these decisions, the Army is planning future investments of almost $200 million in Europe to construct a new theater-level Army headquarters facility at Wiesbaden, Germany and the TRICARE Management Agency is planning a future investment of approximately $1.2 billion to replace aging medical facilities at Ramstein and Landstuhl, Germany with a new consolidated medical center adjacent to Ramstein Air Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany. In light of these significant investments and the uncertainty about the Army's future force structure in Europe, Congress asked us to assess (1) the cost implications of potentially keeping more Army forces in Europe than originally planned, and the extent to which the Army's plans align with an evolving European strategic concept and U.S. posture plans, and (2) whether the process used by the Army to determine facility requirements provides an adequate basis for its infrastructure plans.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To take advantage of the pause before final decisions on the Army's European force structure are made and determine the best course of action for its European posture, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to conduct a comprehensive analysis of alternatives for stationing forces in Europe. At a minimum, the review should be done as expeditiously as possible upon the completion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's strategic concept announcement and consider the costs and benefits of a range of force structure and basing alternatives.|
|Department of Defense||To take advantage of the pause before final decisions on the Army's European force structure are made and determine the best course of action for its European posture, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop a consistent process to determine specific facility requirements associated with the various options.|