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Military Paradigm Shift


Tarhog

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Major US Force deployment changes are coming. I said almost a year ago that we were hamstrung in our potential responses to a nuclear N. Korea by our large troop presence which made an effective response incredibly costly. Removing our troops from N. Korea will put the N. Koreans on the hot seat where they belong. This and the other potential changes will make it indelibly clear that we know who our friends are, and who they are not. Having experienced the hostility of many elements of the Okinawan people up close and personal, I'm glad we're considering leaving places where we are not welcome nor appreciated for perhaps sunnier and friendlier climes.

http://msnbc.com/news/920065.asp?0cv=CA00

U.S. planning historic shift abroad

Troops would leave German, South Korean, Okinawa bases

By Michael Moran

MSNBC

June 2 — In the most sweeping realignment of American military power since World War II, the United States is planning to shift most of its forces from Germany, South Korea and the Japanese island of Okinawa, U.S. and foreign military officials say. The plans, still the focus of intense negotiations and debate among America’s allies and inside the Bush administration, would reorient America’s presence in Europe eastward to Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, and shift U.S. power in the Far East toward southeast Asia, with options for new bases in northern Australia, the Philippines and even Vietnam being explored.

BESIDES CLOSING military facilities that, in some cases, date to the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945, these officials say the moves being contemplated would have far reaching implications for America’s relationship with leading powers in Europe and Asia. There currently are some 70,000 American troops based in Germany, 38,000 in South Korea and 47,000 in Japan, about 30,000 of which are crammed onto the tiny island of Okinawa. To varying degrees, and for varying reasons, the presence of so many American troops in each place has become increasingly controversial.

“What’s going on is partly a long-overdue adjustment, and partly a reaction to what is perceived as a very ungrateful attitude toward us in some quarters,” says a senior U.S. military officer, requesting anonymity. “None of these places are ideal for American purposes anymore, and I think the time is just right to do it.”

The combination of new threats, the friction U.S. troops are causing domestically in these countries and a desire on the part of the Pentagon to rethink the structure of the military in general, and in particular the U.S. Army, has convinced the Bush administration that a thorough reconfiguration of America’s overseas presence is in order. While some units could be pulled back to the continental United States, officials say most currently are earmarked for redeployment abroad. Together with the recently announced decision to pullout from Saudi Arabia, the scope of the changes being contemplated are unprecedented.

American officials publicly have denied any concrete plans to move specific units or bases from one country to another. But on Friday, Paul Wolfowitz, the influential deputy defense secretary, confirmed that a complete rethink is underway.

“We are in the process of taking a fundamental look at our military posture worldwide, including in the United States,” Wolfowitz told reporters during a visit to Singapore. “We’re facing a very different threat than any one we’ve faced historically.”

Turning American military strategy away from South Korea, Germany and Japan’s island of Okinawa, three places where American troops fought and died over territory, raises enormous questions. Among the most important, where to put the nearly 150,000 troops currently based in those countries.

Currently, according to a senior military officer involved in planning these moves, plans call for shifting most of the forces currently based in Germany into three newly democratic nations: Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The fact that all three stood by the United States in the run up to the recent war in Iraq certainly doesn’t hurt, the officer says. But other officials, some of whom admitted that they favored the moves to send a message to long-time allies, also confirmed that the gist of the planned draw down in Germany dates back as far as the Clinton administration.

The European moves would likely be in phases, according to these sources, with ground forces and some air units moving first, followed by hospital, support and armored forces — all harder to move — at some later date. One officer suggested that several complex American facilities, such as the Ramstein Air Force Base, might continue to operate, perhaps under NATO auspices.

All three potential host countries already have indicated their willingness to accommodate American forces. In April, the Pentagon announced the sale of F-16 warplanes to Poland at knock down prices, ostensibly as thanks for the work Polish special forces troops did in Iraq, but officials say this is part of an ongoing effort to cement U.S.-Polish ties generally.

U.S. aircraft already are using air fields in both Bulgaria and Romania to keep units in Iraq and Afghanistan supplied, and the governments of both nations — eager to win NATO membership next year — have invited the U.S. to establish permanent bases.

In Asia, the situation is somewhat different. Recent elections in South Korea exposed a deep strain of anti-Americanism that rankled the Bush administration. In Okinawa, the Japanese island that was site of one of World War II’s bloodiest battles, similar feelings have developed over the past decade toward the 30,000 American Marines and soldiers there.

Having led the intervention on behalf of South Korea in 1950, Washington has kept some 38,000 troops in place since the truce that ended combat in 1953. The troops are regarded as a “trip wire” force — in effect, a force large enough to slow but not win a war against the North. With political support for the U.S. presence faltering in the south, many in Washington are wondering about the long term benefits of such an exposed position.

“My reading is that the U.S. forces in Korea need to be redeployed,” says Dr. Melvin Ott, a professor of national security studies at the National War College in Washington. “It’s two things, really: the internal political sensitivities in South Korea, and secondly, a rethinking of how vulnerable you want to be.”

Initially, officials say, the idea was to address South Korean complaints and the vulnerability of forward deployed U.S. forces to North Korean artillery by redeploying them further south down the peninsula. But estimates of the costs involved, officials say, have led many to push for a much larger draw down from Korea, combined with a shift of American forces out of Okinawa, all aimed at creating a larger presence in southeast Asia and along the periphery of China.

“The thinking is that, if you’re saying softly that China and Islamic terrorism are the issues in the long run, then concentrating your forces in Northeast Asia doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” says Ott.

Basing options in Asia are more limited, however. Northern Australia, a mere 200 miles from the southern islands of Indonesia, is considered the most likely site, though officials confirm that talks for various types of air, sea and ground basing rights are underway with the Philippines and Malaysia, as well. Both, however, seem unlikely hosts to American ground troops.

Even Vietnam is being approached, according to Russian reports. Moscow’s own Pacific Fleet is pulling out of the big port of Can Rahm Bay on July some 25 years after Hanoi invited the Soviet Navy into what was formerly a U.S. Navy base. Now, according to the Novye Izvestia newspaper, Vietnam is in talks with the U.S. to grant landing and port rights on a fee-paying basis.

CULTURAL AND POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS

Uprooting decades of military infrastructure from South Korea, Germany and Okinawa will not be simple, however, either from a physical standpoint or a psychological one. Generations of American soldiers have cycled through such outposts as the sprawling Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany, the huge Yonsang Army Garrison in Seoul or the Marines’ Camp Courtney in Okinawa. These facilities and the “Little Americas” that grew up around them to house family members play an underrated role in the relationship between the U.S. and the host nations. Most American men over 40 know someone — a brother, an uncle, a friend — who has spoken kindly of the Germans, Koreans or Japanese they met while serving there.

More seriously, adjusting the posture of the world’s dominant military power invariably will be seen as a threat.

Russia repeatedly has warned that it takes a dim view of the idea of American bases in Eastern Europe, though since 9/11, when Moscow acceded to the establishment of U.S. bases in former Soviet Central Asia, some of those concerns may have diminished.

In Asia, however, already candidates for the presidency in Indonesia have been citing the potential U.S. presence in Australia as a provocation, and in spite of talks behind the scene for some form of base in Malaysia, its prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed, routinely rails against American hegemony.

China has been watching the situation carefully, and analysts at Chinese defense universities have been chewing over the implications, according to Ott.

Even in Australia, where attitudes toward the United States are broadly positive, there is concern about how the sudden appearance of large numbers of American troops on Australian soil would affect relations with the country’s neighbors.

“I don’t think it would be a good thing at all and it’s not something we ought to encourage,” Kim Beazley, a former defense minister, told the Australian Broadcasting Company on Friday.

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I knew this was coming. I wonder how the Germans and S Koreans will like billions of dollars removed from their economies? I know the Germans were pretty worried about it but what do they expect when the German Chancellor ran a very anti-american election campaign. The same could be said for the South Koreans as well. It will be costly but it just makes sense to go to a place where you are wanted. American Forces in Vietnam? Wow! That's a shocker!

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This makes sense for any number of reasons. I'd rather that our money and resources, and broader security of our bases, be in the hands of those countries with a current and established history of support for us and our policies, rather than the opposite.

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Originally posted by Tarhog

Russia repeatedly has warned that it takes a dim view of the idea of American bases in Eastern Europe

I should think so...not sure I'd be thrilled with the idea of 150,000 Russian troops stationed in Mexico

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:cheers:

This is the best news I've heard in years. We should have pulled our a$$es out of Korea long ago, especially since the ingrates don't want us there to begin with. The German bases are no longer necessary, nor are many of the others across the world. We should stick to island bases, uninhabited, preferably. That way we won't create too much bitterness in the local populations. Let's face it, I don't think any onf us would want a foreign base on American soil.... ever... no matter who it is. Hell, the U.N. headquarters is bad enough. :silly:

I think we should slowly pull our forces back domestically. It would save money, and be more beneficial to our military personnel. Some of my friends are none-too-excited about being away from their families.

Presently, we can have quick strike forces without having bases spread across the globe without making us seem like the imperial force that they would like to portray us as.

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Originally posted by chiefhogskin48

:cheers:

This is the best news I've heard in years. We should have pulled our a$$es out of Korea long ago, especially since the ingrates don't want us there to begin with. The German bases are no longer necessary, nor are many of the others across the world. We should stick to island bases, uninhabited, preferably. That way we won't create too much bitterness in the local populations. Let's face it, I don't think any onf us would want a foreign base on American soil.... ever... no matter who it is. Hell, the U.N. headquarters is bad enough. :silly:

I think we should slowly pull our forces back domestically. It would save money, and be more beneficial to our military personnel. Some of my friends are none-too-excited about being away from their families.

Presently, we can have quick strike forces without having bases spread across the globe without making us seem like the imperial force that they would like to portray us as.

I agree... good post.:cheers:

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I'd hate to see what will happen to the Okinawan economy should the U.S. leave. Between losing all the monies spent "in town" by military members, the loss of thousands of civilian jobs on base, and the loss of the "rent" the U.S. pays the Okinawan government, it would be a huge blow.

But, the Okinawan people have been protesting our presence for years, so why not give them what they want?

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I have no problem with this....never been to Poland or Bulgaria.

Wanna see someone start kissing our a$$es pretty soon? Watch both South and North Korea. The south is gonna start having a coronary because they probably see the broader reason of our troop withdraw, meaning that should we choose to take out the North in the future, there will be none of out troops there to take a pounding or take up for their a$$es. The north is gonna see this as a withdraw for the same reasons, and it will make it clear that they are movng up the sh!t list.

Germany.....I think from talking to friends stationed there and from talking to some of the natives I keep in contact with, that they don't really want us out. A lot of them don't like Schroder and don't follow his policies, sorta like when clinton was in office here, but they are going to pay the price for it anyway. Hell, last time I was at Ramstein, it looked like a friggin' NATO base, more foreign uniforms around then American ones. Plus, next time we go somewhere, we won't have to ask,"Mother, may I?" to go through someone's airspace that is supposed to be our allies.

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Originally posted by Air Sarge

The north is gonna see this as a withdraw for the same reasons, and it will make it clear that they are movng up the sh!t list.

Serious question: Where do you suppose we would stage for an invasion of North Korea? If not South Korea?

Or are you thinking of an air-only (plus a Tomahawk or two) campaign?

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Originally posted by Soliloquy

Serious question: Where do you suppose we would stage for an invasion of North Korea? If not South Korea?

Or are you thinking of an air-only (plus a Tomahawk or two) campaign?

Sol...its a complex question, but Air Sarge caught the larger meaning of this move I alluded to, that it removes the one primary obstacle to directly and believably threatening N. Korea militarily, the presence of our troops there. We don't want a conventional ground war in Korea again. All of our primary advantages are significantly reduced in rugged terrain, with 30 years of prepping and building of fortified defensive positions, it would be very costly. Air alone though is also problematic because we can't 'see' our objectives there as we are able to do in a desert environment, although GPS and smart weapons make it easier than it would have been 10 years ago. The bottom line message to the N. Koreans regardless though is that if they don't start playing ball, don't knock off the psycho-bully babble they've spouted, and cease and desist production of nukes, we can and WILL respond, with pretty much impunity.

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You know what they say "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it". I'd love to see just how much all those folks who've been protesting the American presence in their countries miss the water once the well runs dry.

We have budget problems of our own. If we can save a little $$ by eliminating a few bases here and there which were protecting folks who don't need or want to be protected, sounds good to me.

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Serious question: Where do you suppose we would stage for an invasion of North Korea? If not South Korea?

Korea is a tough nut to crack, tactic-wise. But right now the only thing from keeping South Korea from becoming North Korea is 37,000 US troops. Although I would be loathe to do so, if a conventional ground war must be fought, we should let the South Korean army do it, with our support, of course. And do it they will, because they do not want to see the North with nukes, or rather a lot more nukes than they already have. Meanwhile, we will clear the skies over the north from Japan (because they don't want a nuclear North, either) and the communist will feel the wrath of the B-1, B-52, B-2 and all other aircraft. We will destroy their nuke capability (at least the stuff we know about that is fixed) from the air and probably ask them if they still want to play.

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I say we just let them duke it out and let the South Koreans have their long awaited Korean reunification...under N. Korea. I don't think the South Koreans have the mettle to fight effectively for their freedom. OTOH, they do have a lot better military hardware than the North so it might just end up being a stalemate again.

As for the nukes, we do what we need to in order to eliminate them from the air and then go about our business.

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Well, look,

The significant technological advantages we currently have, and the advances we have made, are the *beginning* of military capability, not the end. No matter how much you discuss GPS, satellites, conventional war tactics, etc. the primary questions you need to ask in assessing war with North Korea involve precious little having to do with technology because what we have is a geopolitical reality that would just ignite into a fireball the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time--

--the SECOND that we attack any nuclear production facility, the SECOND we attack anything on North Korea. :)

Talk to anyone at the DIA, for instance, and they'll tell you that North Korea is prepared to send missiles over to Japan, and possibly elsewhere. So, they start bombarding Japanese cities and you think that the United States and Japan are going to sit around and wait for ground forces to move in? LOL, look, there are scenarios for the MEFs to head in and stuff, and I suspect they would eventually, but there would certainly not be a conventional war until several million have died, and on each side. Typical wargame scenarios but the agencies with the intel seem to concur.

So yeah, I wouldn't envision a ground campaign of any sort until the outcome of a war was already pretty much in hand. Unfortunately, Seoul and Japan would be in some dire straits.

Would you seriously want to risk it? They're definitely Axis of Evil but that's one tinderbox you just can't afford to screw with, I think. As far as reuniting the peninsula, yeah it's a great idea, I just wish young S. Koreans would realize that the only reason they aren't starving to death right now is because of General MacArthur (again, I recommend Victory at High Tide for excellent reading on Inchon...).

And did anyone see Tom DeLay's comments on China? LOL, wow. Got to love the hawks. :)

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If the north was responsible with their nuke tech, it probably wouldn't be as big a deal. But they sell it to the high bidder, which obviously is not good. Their nuke program will not be allowed to continue......period. Japan and the south know this is the way it has to be, because they don't want a nuclear north either.

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Air Sarge and Tarhog are more knowledgeable in this than I am, but in the context of the North's ruthlessness and the difficulty of the terrain in ground fighting, the strategic effect of our 37k troops along the border is to have a "hostage" that the North can use to threaten us with. As I understand it, virtually every one of our troops there would be involved directly in combat with the North on Day 1 of an invasion. They're even more in danger from nukes obviously.

If we remove the hostage from their reach, while still being able to strike decisively at them - which we can do with our Naval and Air power in conjunction with bases in foreign countries in the region as others have pointed out - then we gain more leverage in negotiations with them.

The assumption that the N. Koreans have is that they're more willing to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers than we are on Korean soil . . . and they're right.

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right on Redman. Admiral, you're correct that confronting NK is problematic. But there are several counter points...first of all, that the risks of not giving NK an ultimatum (and pretty soon) and allowing them to perfect the marriage of ballistic missiles/nuclear warheads, and perhaps gain the ability to strike the mainland US are FAR too high to sit idly by and address them by 'negotiation'. They've proven they absolutely cannot be trusted, should not even be given the chance to negotiate as it is a pointless exercise. Then there is the problem of them selling nuclear weapons on the open market, something they are clearly capable of doing at some point, and something they've even declared they would do. Is Japan at risk? Absolutely, but think of their position 10 years from now if we do nothing.

The bottom line for NK once we get our troops out of there is this: Can NK hurt us and our allies if attacked? No doubt. But if they do so it will be with the clear warning up front that we won't just attack NK, in the event of say a ballistic missile attack on downtown Tokyo, we will DESTROY N. Korea. Is that harsh? Not in light of the threats N. Korea is making and is actively pursuing implementing.

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