U.S. Will Close 15 Military Bases in Europe, but Keep Troop Levels the Same

Sunday, January 11, 2015

U.S. armed forces in Europe should prepare to get a little bit cozier with one another.


The Pentagon announced last week that it will close 15 U.S. bases in Europe. However, because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other pressures, the number of American forces on the continent will remain about the same at about 67,000 for the next several years. The closures are expected to save about $500 million from the $500 billion Pentagon budget, according to Military Times.


Some in the Defense Department had wanted to shift military resources to the Asia-Pacific region. Part of that plan is on hold, thanks to Vladimir Putin’s decision to move into Ukraine. “I think there is a growing realization that the ‘Pacific pivot,’ while a good idea theoretically, has collided with the reality of bad Russian behavior in Europe. And we have discovered that we have serious security issues to face with our NATO allies in Europe,” Former NATO Supreme Commander Ret. Adm. James Stavridis said.


The United States will also continue to send troops to smaller posts in Poland and the Baltic states to reassure those countries concerned about further Russian threats.


One of the biggest bases to be closed will be Mildenhall Air Base in England with its Air Force personnel being transferred to Germany. Another English base, Lakenheath, will be getting two new F-35 Lightning squadrons, however.


Other U.S. installations to be closed or downsized include a hotel in Germany and an Air Force presence at Lajes, in the Azores that has been used since World War II as a refueling station for planes crossing the Atlantic.


Whereas closing bases stateside takes an act of Congress, the Pentagon can choose to close overseas bases on its own, making them tempting budget-cutting targets.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

EUCOM Base Closures Will Not Affect Force Levels (by Andrew Tilghman and Lars Schwetje, Military Times)

U.S. Consolidates Forces in Europe to Save Money (by Helene Cooper, New York Times)

U.S. Military to Close 15 Bases in Europe (BBC News)


Leave a comment