Drawdown of Brigade Combat Teams in Europe…

by reader Ilsm

Consider GAO-100745R take on keeping 4 brigades home stationed in Germany and Italy:

In the Quadrennial Defense Review released in Feb 2010, the US Army decided to reverse the drawdown of Brigade Combat Teams and retain 2 brigades to retain the current order of battle of 4 brigades home stationed in Germany and Italy. This means that 30,000 soldiers will remain stationed in Germany, and that infrastructure improvements are required.

GAO recommends the Army delay infrastructure “investments” in Germany pending determining future forces stationed there in support of new NATO strategy plan due in Nov. 2010. The Warsaw Pact formally dissolved in July 1991. The Red Army began withdrawing in phases from forward deployments in the Warsaw Pact states in 1991. The phasing was required to accommodate Red Army forces returning to already stressed facilities in the Soviet Union. In many cases the Red Army demobilized forces as forward deployments ended.

GAO sees two issues to explore: the questionable “need” for the 4 Brigade Combat Teams and the Army’s determination of support requirements and consolidating stations and facilities to achieve costs savings.

The report includes the following:

“The Army estimates that, depending upon the assumptions used, it will potentially cost between $1 billion and $2 billion more from fiscal years 2012-2021 to keep the two brigades in Europe than it would cost to return them to the United States. DOD is reconsidering retaining the brigades in Europe in part because senior military officials in Europe have said that four brigade combat teams in Europe are needed to meet operational and mission requirements.”

What are these operational and mission requirements and why does the US Army keep 30,000 troops in Germany while the Bundeswehr is reducing its force structure from 250,000 to 163,000 by 2014? What of these missions require the 2 combat ready brigades and what is the need for 4? The Red Army, which is not in a high state of readiness, is on the other side of Poland and Hungary. NATO, includes the countries in between and these countries, should provide the bulk of forces for their independence.

Since 1999, NATO and the UN have forces deployed forces in Kosovo, termed KFOR consisting of around 10,000 soldiers plus supports. See here for more information. Once an occupation begins it is very hard to end, the US is 40% of NATO and the UN contribution should limit US troops far below 4,000, and these formations could be rotated from the Uniter States. Standing up a Kosovo Security Force seems to be a daunting open ended task. The US should seriously consider why it has any brigades in Germany much less keeping 4.

The second issue is facilities to house the 4 brigades. GAO finds inconsistencies with “quality of life” standards used to establish requirements for troop quarters, military family housing. It also questions savings from consolidations and suggest delay of building a US Army regional medical center at a projected construction cost of $1.2B. The medical center is a major hospital that provides primary care for more than 40,000 military personnel and 245,000 beneficiaries in the European Command. Interesting is the number of beneficiaries needing medical support in Germany. This is a result of the all volunteer force.

GAO conclusions: Plans for forces in NATO are uncertain and costs are likely understated, keeping the 2 brigades in Europe could cost $2B in the long term. DOD’s plans for reviewing U.S. global defense posture are unclear, but alternatives under consideration are limited. Inconsistent processes to develop facility requirements hampers validation of facility needs.

GAO Recommendations include:

1. 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.

2. Develop a consistent process to determine specific facility requirements associated with the various options.

This audit reveals many of the issues with DoD investment decisions: the needs that form the objectives for planning force structure and forces are ill defined and often fraught with politics and prejudices of senior officials to maintain some preferred status quo ante. Also, once alternatives are developed analyses are not well formed and the resulting management decisions are neither effective against needs nor efficient to implement.