Source AP ©

US postpones troop reduction plan

The plan to decrease the number of US troops in Germany may be postponed, reported a military spokesman.

The head of the U.S. European Command, Gen. Bantz Craddock, has recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that two of four Army brigades in Europe be kept there a year or so longer than had been planned. Those brigades are currently based in Germany and have been rotating through Iraq.

"The secretary is inclined to embrace the concept of leaving there, the two of them for a period longer than was anticipated," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday.

Whitman said details are being worked out, including the implications for compliance with the most recent base closing and realignment law.

Craddock questioned the troop reduction plan shortly after taking over the European post late last year.

The decrease in troops so far amid repeated deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by those remaining in Europe has forced officials to cancel military exercises and other activities with European allies.

The idea of cutting troops from 68,000 in 2001 to 28,000 by 2012 was part of an initiative by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to transform the military into a leaner, more cost-effective force.