For the time being, the Army has no plans to withdraw any more troops from Germany, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told German media on Tuesday.
In fact, the number of soldiers in the country could grow as the Army plans more rotational deployments, he said.
The Army’s top officer toured the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, ostensibly to visit troops currently engaged in a large-scale, multinational training exercise known as Combined Resolve III.
Odierno also took time to reassure the host nation that the U.S. Army is committed to security and training operations in Europe.
“As I look at it today … I will tell you we have no plans to pull another brigade out of Germany or out of Italy, but that could change,” he said. “Our plan right now, is we think it’s important to sustain that capability here.”
Over the past 10 years, the Army has seen its troop strength numbers drop by about 25,000 troops to the current level of 30,000.
“The Army itself has reduced significantly in Europe already. And we’re probably about as low as we can go,” Odierno said.
He added that the remaining forces, especially those stationed at the training facilities at Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels, will be more closely linked to NATO security missions than in previous years.
As a result, it’s likely that troop numbers would increase as the Army rotates units in to take part in the training.
“What we’re really looking at is how we can rotate forces here periodically to actually increase the number of people we have here, just on a rotational basis,” he said. “What you’re going to see here in Europe is more rotational capability coming forward from the States in order to reinforce our alliance as part of the NATO response force.”
Odierno also touched briefly on the ongoing fight against Islamic State insurgents in Syria and Iraq, saying that while progress is slow, American airstrikes against those forces in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani had been successful in slowing down insurgent operations there.
He also did not discount the possibility of sending more American troops to augment those already there working with Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish peshmerga.
“We know it’s going to take time. We’ll have to constantly assess how long it’s going to take, we’ll assess how many trainers and advisers are needed from the United States.
“Currently we have about 1,600 on the ground. We’ll continue to assess if we need to put more in order to speed that up,” he said.