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Bush to cut forces in Europe, Asia; no change in Iraq
SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- President Bush has decided to bring home tens of thousands of U.S. troops from posts around the world -- most of them in Europe and Asia -- plus 100,000 of their family members and support personnel, U.S. officials said Saturday.
The changes will have no effect on forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Bush will announce the move Monday in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Cincinnati, two senior administration officials said.
As part of the largest troop realignment in years, Bush will shift about 70,000 uniformed military personnel, most of them currently in Europe, the senior officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A significant proportion will come home, though it was not clear when.
U.S. armed forces stationed aboard, other than Iraq and Afghanistan, now number about 200,000, of whom 100,000 are based in Europe. The Pentagon advised German officials earlier this year that it was considering removing two Army divisions from Germany and replacing them with smaller, more mobile units.
The decision is meant to "strengthen our ability to respond to threats overseas," one official said, declining to elaborate.
"It will improve our capability to protect America and our allies and ease some of the burden on our uniformed military members and their families," one official said.
The decision is sure to be a politically popular one at a time when Bush has refused to offer a timetable for bringing home the roughly 140,000 U.S. troops from Iraq.
Democrat John Kerry has said he would try to begin withdrawing some troops from Iraq within his first six months in office.
That promise has drawn ridicule from Bush, who has said it would encourage the enemy to hunker down and wait out the United States. But it has also put pressure on the commander in chief at a time when the death toll on U.S. service members is approaching 1,000.
Bush did not mention his decision at a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa.