The downsizing of the Army overseas has cost more money than expected because of a reliance on expensive rotational forces when forward-based units can perform the same roles more cheaply, according to a new U.S. Army War College report.
An examination of the costs of troop rotations during the past several years in Europe and South Korea undermines a decade-old Defense Department argument that shuttling units back and forth from the United States is a more efficient way of doing business than basing them overseas, said report author John R. Deni, a War College professor.
There also is evidence that the long rotations are taking a toll on troop morale, with units deployed to Europe and South Korea showing lower re-enlistment rates than their counterparts, the report found.
Deni, whose findings were the subject of a panel discussion Wednesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said the Army should base one additional armored brigade in Europe and one in South Korea along with aviation assets and enablers.
“We’ve got some actual hard data now,” he said. “There seems to be universal agreement that the rotational modal has cost us more than it would to forward station an [armored brigade combat team].”
Basing brigades in Europe and South Korea would be cheaper over time, serve as a stronger demonstration of commitment to allies in the respective regions and address morale concerns, said the report titled “Rotational Deployments vs. Forward Stationing.”
For armored brigades, it costs about $135 million more annually to maintain a continuous presence of soldiers on rotation from the United States to Europe, according to the study, which compared the costs of sending a Fort Hood, Texas-based brigade to Europe versus stationing one in Germany.
The report, to be released in July, makes an argument that runs counter to conventional wisdom regarding the costs of force structure overseas. (end of excerpt)
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