Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hertling hints that brigade could leave Europe sooner

The Army could return a Europe-based Army brigade to the United States before the previously announced 2015 deadline, the head of U.S. Army Europe said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who took over the post in March, told reporters that he has already made his recommendation to Army officials about which brigade should be moved back to the United States, but would not identify the unit because no formal decision has been made.

But he did say the move could come sooner than Pentagon officials requested. He declined to say how much sooner.

In April, the DOD announced that only one Europe-based combat brigade would move stateside. An earlier plan called for two.

The command currently oversees three brigades in Germany — the 170th Infantry Brigade in Baumholder, the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Schweinfurt, and the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck — as well as the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which has troops both in both Germany and Italy.

Hertling said he does not anticipate any changes in that part of the plan, even with increased political and budgetary pressure from Congress. Several lawmakers have publicly questioned whether stationing troops in Europe makes fiscal sense given the more pressing threats facing U.S. interests elsewhere in the world.

“Those are just recommendations, and the department is looking at them now,” he said