This is Steve Ember with In the News in VOA Special English.
President Bush this week announced a major redeployment of American military forces around the world. Mister Bush said the plan would take place over the next ten years. He said sixty thousand to seventy thousand soldiers will return to the United States. About one hundred thousand family members and civilian employees would also return home.
Currently, about two hundred thirty thousand troops are stationed outside the United States, in countries other than Iraq and Afghanistan. Most are in Germany, Japan and South Korea. The United States has about ninety thousand troops in Asia and the Pacific.
The president said the redeployment would create a military that is better prepared to fight terrorism. More troops would be stationed in the United States and could be deployed from there as needed. Mister Bush says base closures as a result of the redeployment would also reduce costs. And he says the plan would improve life for military families.
The United States has kept a strong military presence in Europe and Asia since World War Two ended in nineteen forty-five. Troops were stationed in Europe to contain the threat of communism. American officials say the end of the Soviet Union means that large numbers of troops are no longer needed.
Under the new plan, officials say about thirty thousand troops in Germany would be replaced by a smaller force that could be deployed more quickly. The first troops from Germany are not expected to be brought home before late next year. Germany has expressed concern about the effect that the reduction would have on its economy.
American officials say some troops could be moved to eastern European nations. That would put them closer to areas like the Balkans and the Middle East. Many experts say they do not believe American forces in Asia will be greatly reduced, and may even be increased. But officials say the plan is not designed to provide more troops for Iraq. Defense officials say they will talk about the plan with American allies.
Mister Bush announced his plan Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry criticized the plan when he spoke at the convention on Wednesday. He said the plan would not increase America's ability to combat terrorism. And he said it would not ease the stress on American troops. Senator Kerry stated, "Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars." But he added that this is not the right time or the sensible way to do it.
National security is an important issue in this year's presidential election. A new public opinion study was released this week. The Americans questioned in the study said that national security and foreign policy issues were more important than economic issues.
In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.