Written by Frank Cotolo
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Topics: Germany, berlin

Friday, 4 June 2004

image for U.S. weighs troops in Germany
Donald Rumsfeld explains how a scale to weigh troops works.

BERLIN - The United States is weighing troop withdrawals to fundamentally rearrange American forces around the world, U.S. and German officials said. Around 70,000 U.S. troops are currently assigned to Germany and that would require quite a scale.

"We may have to use addition," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested, "and weigh one hundred at a time at our official MWS [Military Weighing Station]."

Weighing U.S. troops in foreign lands has always been a chore, since an MWS was never set up in another country to work as well as the MWS in America. And, of course, there is no way the U.S. can move troops from one country to another unless it is sure of what those troops weigh.

"The last time moving troops was performed without weighing them," said Douglas Feith the under-secretary of defense, "an entire ship sunk from the poundage. We can't afford losing a ship these days."

Rumsfeld said changes need to begin soon because Washington is ready to move forces in Europe and Korea that have formed defense lines from the Cold War. "Our forces are needed in hot wars, not cold, cool or frigid ones," said Rumsfeld. "It's time to adjust those locations from static defense to a more agile and a more capable and a more 21st-century posture. After, that is, they are weighed."

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Walter Lindner told reporters, "We offered to weigh the troops on our precision German scales. They are not off by one scintilla of an American ounce. But the Americans are anal retentive about weighing their own troops, so let them do what they have to do how they want to do it."

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