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Carlucci Warns NATO That U.S. Force Levels May Have to Be Cut

From a Times Staff Writer

American forces in Europe may have to be reduced if the next U.S. defense budget slips below a proposed 2% increase, Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci warned Friday.

Carlucci told a meeting of defense ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that the budget hike is essential to maintain the stateside structure needed to support overseas deployment of U.S. troops.

“You need this kind of real growth to meet strategic goals,” he said.

NATO officials are worried that Congress or the incoming Administration of President-elect George Bush might scale back the number of American troops based in Europe, currently about 326,000. In NATO’s view, any U.S. reduction could send the wrong signal to Moscow and adversely effect both NATO’s defense and arms control talks with the Soviet Union.

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Meanwhile, Carlucci described as a “remarkable step” a NATO committee report issued Thursday on members’ roles, risks and responsibilities, which spelled out how NATO countries are aiding the common defense in intangible ways.

He said it was the first time that a formal document had pointed out some of the “glaring” differences in the varying contributions of the 16 NATO members.

Congressional critics contend that European members of NATO have not been shouldering their share of the burden in their own defense.

NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner reaffirmed the alliance’s goal of “enhancing security and stability at lower levels of forces” in the final communique issued by the defense ministers after their two-day session.

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Despite Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s “declared intention of moving toward a defense doctrine,” the Soviet Union maintains an offensive deployment, Woerner charged.

“We therefore call upon the Soviet Union to make changes in its military capabilities consistent with its declared policies,” the NATO statement said.


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