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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chairman, maintaining four brigade combat teams in Europe is an example of the kind of wasteful spending that should be cut from the Federal Government.

This is the fourth time I've offered an amendment to reduce U.S. troop levels in Europe, and it has received more support on the floor of the House each time. I want to thank my colleague from Colorado (Mr. Coffman) for his leadership efforts in offering this amendment with me this year. I'm hopeful this amendment's clear logic, obvious nature, and bipartisan support will lead the House to adopt it.

This amendment, very simply, will bring troops home from Europe. Basing these forces in the U.S. rather than Europe will cost 10 to 20 percent less and maintain the flexibility and infrastructure for global operations necessary in today's world. The amendment would also authorize the Pentagon to close bases across Europe that are no longer necessary.

In the wake of World War II and the Cold War, stationing troops in Europe made sense. We were holding the line against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact and meeting our obligations to NATO. But the Soviet Union ceased to exist 20 years ago. If we didn't have these bases in Europe, we'd have to ask ourselves: Would we be setting bases up in Europe today to combat the global war on terrorism?

Our troop commitment in Europe needs to be reexamined. Our European allies are some of the richest countries in the world, so why are we subsidizing their defense? The average American spends over $2,500 on defense; the average European, about $500.

With modern technology, we can move troops and weapons quickly across the world to meet our NATO commitments and other operational necessities. We can rely on our capacity for rapid deployment to send troops and assets to all regions when needed.

Our amendment would call for rotational forces to be deployed in Europe so they can fulfill our NATO obligations. There's cheaper and less controversial ways of proving to our allies the strength of our commitment to defense than permanently stationing and maintaining over 80,000 troops in their countries.

Donald Rumsfeld even thinks it's time for a change to our policy. In his recent book he wrote:

Of the quarter-million troops deployed abroad in 2001, more than 100,000 were in Europe, the vast majority stationed in Germany to fend off an invasion by a Soviet Union that no longer exists.


Mr. POLIS. I thank the gentleman from Colorado for his leadership.

At a time when we must seriously consider cuts to our budget and balancing our budget, we should not continue to subsidize the defense of wealthy European nations against a Soviet threat that ceased to exist two decades ago.

I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.


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