Tuesday, October 24, 2017

All Over the World: Some Thoughts on US Troop Deployments

In the aftermath of the Niger ambush, folks are wondering where the US troops are.  Perhaps an easier question is where are they not?
I forget who linked to this document which lists, accurately or not,* where US service folks are serving (see this page for links to all kinds of related reports).
* Dave and I relied heavily on NATO placemats for the numbers in Afghanistan even as we were told, due to politics, that some countries deliberately over-estimated or under-estimated.
 I had a few reactions along the way, so here's some quick takes:
  • Someone needs to scrub this a bit, as it reports 1k US Marines in Austria and 4 in Australia. Given that the US very publicly has developed a relationship with Australia to train Marines there, I am pretty sure someone switched the two numbers.  
  • Bosnia has two American service members.  Almost certainly the Defense Attache and his/her assistant or an observer for EUFOR (European Force).  Which reminds me of how we all resolved the contradiction between "in together, out together" and "hasten the day we could leave" as the US and Canada left Bosnia when NATO's SFOR became EU's EUFOR.
  • There are 142 American service members in Canada (more than half USAF)?  This is probably a combo of NORAD stuff and exchange relationships. I joked "Holy Occupation" on twitter, but this is a pretty unsurprising number.
  • Two thousand in Djibouti.  Much drone and Special Ops probably run out of there.  China and Japan also have folks based there--pretty crowded for a small country.
  • 500 Marines in El Salvador?  Not sure what to make of that
  • 360 in Kosovo as the US, yes, is still in KFOR.  Interventions last a long time....
  • Iceland: 0.  Ah, backfill memories as the US used to have fighters and support aircraft based in Iceland.  Not anymore.
  • Georgia: 0.  No defense attache?
  • 127 Marines in Libya?  All guarding the embassy?  I have no idea.
  • 258 Marines in Norway?  Mighty cold.  But as a friend reminded me, US has pre-deployed equipment there, which means folks there to take care of it.  
  • Lithuania is not listed?
  • 112 in Poland?  This seems wrong as the US deployed a Brigade Combat Team (4k) to Poland and somewhat dispersed it in the region.  But the US is a Framework Nation of the Persistent Presence in Poland, so it has got to be more like 1k at the very least.
So, no, not a great list.  Especially since it lists Niger at 5.  Super-oops.

My takeaways:
  • The Marines are far busier than one would expect.
  • Past interventions lead traces.
  • We need a better list.
  • It reminded me of this song:

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