US to withdraw 11,000 troops from Europe
The United States vowed Thursday to retain close military ties to its European allies after unveiling plans to withdraw more than 11,000 troops from Germany and Italy as part of a strategic shift to Asia.
The details of the troop reduction, which include two Army brigades and two air squadrons, were announced as Defence Secretary Leon Panetta hosted his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere, for talks at the Pentagon.
Both men endorsed the drawdown at a joint press conference, with Panetta promising the move would not alter Washington's commitment to the Nato alliance.
The Pentagon chief said over 40,000 American troops would remain in Germany.
Starting later this year, the US military will start pulling out two US Army brigades, two Air Force squadrons as well as about 2,500 support troops, officials said.
The two Army heavy infantry brigades and one of the Air Force squadrons, which flies A-10 "tank killer" aircraft, are currently based in Germany while the second air unit is located in Aviano, Italy.
The move will reduce the total number of American forces in Europe to roughly 70,000 from the current level of about 81,000, officials said.
The US military footprint in Europe has drastically declined since the Cold War, when more than 270,000 troops were stationed on the continent at one point.