Do We Really Need 150k Troops In Europe & 40k In South Korea?

by John Hawkins | April 2, 2004 11:59 pm

In his latest column[1], Victor Davis Hanson discusses how many of our troops are still stationed in Europe…

“We lament the lack of plentiful European troops in Afghanistan and Iraq for a variety of other reasons. Almost 150,000 American sailors, airmen, and soldiers are concurrently stationed in various European countries while thin lines of Americans battle in the Afghan badlands and the Sunni Triangle — a de facto damning indictment of our entire approach to military deployment abroad.”

The Soviet Union is no longer a threat, it doesn’t look likely that Western Europe is going to start slugging it out again in the near future, and certainly Europe can afford to defend itself. So why in the world do we still have 150,000 troops in Western Europe?

VDH suggests cutting our troop levels down to about 30,000 or so in the region and agree with him. Why not move some of our troops to more relevant locations, ones where they’re more appreciated and of more strategic use, and bring the rest home? I’m not saying we should totally get rid of our European bases, but there’s just no need to have 150,000 soldiers siting around old Europe.

Furthermore, once we get the nukes out of the North Korea and get that situation settled down, I’d like to see us move our troops out of South Korea too. Again, why keep American troops, 40,000 of them, in a rich country that is fully capable of defending itself with a little bit of preparation? We have battle groups in the area and bases in Japan that we can launch planes from in the event of a North Korean attack, so it’s not as if we would be forced to totally abandon South Korea. So, I see little value in leaving our troops there especially given the increasingly hostile attitude younger South Koreans have towards our soldiers and our country.

So all total here, we’re talking 160,000 US troops that would almost certainly be more welcome & better positioned in places other than where they’re currently deployed. Should we have that many soldiers on the sidelines in the dangerous world we live in today? I think not…

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