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'Base Force' Plan Keeps 12 Active-Duty Divisions


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THE United States Army's top general insists that even in today's new world the US needs to keep two full divisions of ground forces based in Europe.

Some members of Congress have been complaining that the proposed 1993 defense budget does not reflect the collapse of the Soviet Union, as it would keep some 150,000 US troops at European bases.

But Pentagon officials say a US force in Europe should be able to fight - and that a two-division corps is the smallest Army unit with all the equipment needed to sustain heavy combat.

Army forces in Europe "must be credible, in our view, and capable," said Gen. Gordon Sullivan, Army chief of staff, in a meeting with Monitor editors.

NATO allies "know what a US corps is" and are used to working with that size of a force, said General Sullivan.

Overall, the Pentagon's "base force" plan now calls for the Army to be reduced to 12 active-duty divisions, six National Guard and reserve divisions, and two cadre divisions.

That represents a reduction from about 1.5 million total personnel at the end of the 1980s to just over a million by 1995.

Plans for this cut, and the corresponding Navy and Air Force reductions, were drawn up after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but before the USSR dissolved into dust and leaders of the former republics began talking about becoming US allies instead of adversaries.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Colin Powell, and other top Pentagon officials say their new base force takes the end of the Soviet threat into account. This does not literally mean the Pentagon predicted the collapse of the USSR, said Sullivan.

But at the time military leaders were involved with planning for the massive Conventional Forces in Europe arms control treaty, and "we were aware we were involved with momentous change."

With the revolutions of Eastern Europe and the former USSR past, General Sullivan said he worries now about a third revolution and I don't know what that revolution is yet."


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