Pentagon mulls plan to cut Europe troops by half

Top Pentagon officials are considering whether they should halt the drawdown of US troops stationed in Europe, a plan that may be outdated because of the war in Iraq and other world developments. A Defense Department official said Monday some defense leaders are studying whether the 2002 plan to cut troops on the continent by nearly half still makes sense today with America's two ongoing wars, worsening relations with Russia and Iran and a recent plan to grow the Army. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the proposal on the record. The decrease in troops so far - amid repeated deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by those remaining in Europe - has forced officials to cancel military exercises and other activities with European allies, the official said. The idea of cutting troops from 68,000 in 2001 to 28,000 by 2012 was part of an initiative by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, part of his plan to transform the military into a leaner, more cost-effective force.