Come Partly Home, America

O'Hanlon, Michael
March 2001
Foreign Affairs;Mar/Apr2001, Vol. 80 Issue 2, p2
The article deals with the proposed downsizing of U.S. troops overseas under the Bush administration in 2001. Although the number of U.S. troops overseas has been cut in half since 1990, most of the reductions have come from bases abroad, where U.S. personnel can enjoy the company of family and many of the comforts of home. If the U.S. wishes to maintain its leadership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance, it must participate in difficult and dangerous European security operations such as the Balkan interventions. The U.S. keeps nearly 20,000 marines on Okinawa, Japan. These troops are an important part of the 100,000 U.S. military personnel based or deployed in the western Pacific region. But the advantages of the deployment-- a diplomatic show of U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific, the lack of Marine Corps opposition, and its cost-effectiveness--do not add up to a strategic rationale for keeping the marines there. Washington should therefore scale back the number of marines in Okinawa to about 5,000. This proposal would cut the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf region from 25,000 to less than 20,000 service personnel. The relief would be greatest for the Air Force, the service that has suffered the most from deployments to the Persian Gulf: its aircraft now maintaining the southern no-fly zone might be reduced by roughly 50 percent.


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