US Footing Greater Bill for Overseas Bases

Donna Cassata, “Report: US Footing Greater Bill for Overseas Bases,” Associated Press, April 17, 2013.

The United States is footing more of the bill for overseas bases in Germany, Japan and South Korea even as the military reduces the number of American troops in Europe and strategically repositions forces in Asia, a congressional report says.

The exhaustive, yearlong investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee focused on costs and burden-sharing as the United States spends more than $10 billion a year to back up the U.S. military presence overseas, with 70 percent of the amount expended in the three nations. The figure does not include military personnel costs.

The size of the U.S. force in Germany is expected to drop in the coming year as the Army plans to deactivate one brigade combat team next year and possibly reduce the force even further with a cut of around 2,500 soldiers. Currently, the U.S. has 48,000 active-duty personnel in Germany at a cost of $4 billion for basing and support.

The amount does not include military personnel costs of $3.9 billion.

The report found that the U.S. has negotiated the return of more than 100 facilities to Germany since 2005, yet they haven’t been included in the residual value settlements between the two countries. Their current value is nearly $1.1 billion.

“It’s really been sloppy and it’s going to have to change even without the budget crunch,” Levin said.

In South Korea, where there are 28,500 troops, the U.S. plans to move its forces from the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul to Camp Humphreys, about 40 miles south of the capital. The U.S. must provide most of the military family housing and cover the cost, estimated at $7 billion.

In return, South Korea gets prime real estate in downtown Seoul. During the transition, the U.S. will be responsible for maintaining both sites at a considerable cost. The project also calls for a $10 million museum at the newer base.

The United States’ non-personnel costs in South Korea were $1.1 billion last year. U.S. spending in the country was expected to exceed South Korea’s contributions by $330 million.

The Americans have about 50,000 troops in Japan, about half stationed on Okinawa. The cost is estimated at $2 billion in non-personnel costs for the U.S.

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