Sen. Jon Tester Urges Ending Outdated Military Spending


(U.S. SENATE) – Pointing to the potential for saving billions of dollars, Senator Jon Tester is urging the Secretary of Defense to consider reducing the number of U.S. military bases and installations overseas—specifically Cold War-era bases in Europe.

The U.S. currently operates more than 1,000 military installations on foreign soil, including 268 in Germany, 124 in Japan and 87 in South Korea.  Approximately 370,000 U.S. military forces are currently deployed in more than 150 countries around the world.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Tester is urging scrutiny of “our military’s overseas footprint, with special consideration to our Air Force facilities in Europe.”

“The days of a strong basing presence in a Cold War-era Europe is no longer relevant with today’s expeditionary force construct,” Tester wrote.  “Given the U.S. military’s advanced technology and the capability of our forces to deploy throughout the world from stateside bases, I believe there may be added value in further reducing our foreign basing footprint.”  “If we can save taxpayers money, we should do it now, not later,” Tester added.

Tester’s letter to Gates appears below.

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Gates:

I write in regards to the President’s recent directive for the Department of Defense to conduct a comprehensive review of our military’s missions and capabilities. I welcome this effort to eliminate waste, cut defense spending where we can afford to make cuts, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our military — particularly at a time when so many programs of critical importance to my constituents are on the chopping block. I certainly look forward to the Pentagon’s recommendations.

Your proposed cuts of $78 billion over the next five years are a good first step down the path of fiscal responsibility, and I appreciate your steadfast leadership on this issue. As the Defense Department looks for the additional $400 billion in cost-effective savings mandated by the President by 2023, I strongly urge you to closely scrutinize our military’s overseas footprint, with special consideration to our Air Force facilities in Europe.

The days of a strong basing presence in a Cold War-era Europe is no longer relevant with today’s expeditionary force construct.  Given the U.S. military’s advanced technology and the capability of our forces to deploy throughout the world from stateside bases, I believe there may be added value in further reducing our foreign basing footprint. 

The Defense Department’s April 8th announcement on the Force Posture Revision in Europe is encouraging, but it was focused primarily on Army Brigade Combat Team posturing in the European Theater.  I believe we need to look at operational and strategic requirements across the Department as they are measured with effectiveness and fiscal responsibility. With that in mind, I recently announced my support for a commission to address cost-savings subsequent to a review of our overseas facilities. If we can save taxpayers money, we should do it now, not later.

As you continue looking at different cost-cutting measures, your attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.  And as you continue to identify ways in which our military can be made more efficient and effective, I trust that you will continue working with Congress in a close and productive manner.

Tester is an outspoken advocate for cutting government spending and the national debt.  After meeting with the co-chair of the national Debt Commission earlier this year,  to support a comprehensive, credible plan to cut spending and the national debt.

Americans aren’t buying what GOP politicians are trying to sell about the need to end medicare and social security as we know them.  There are better ways to cut government spending and cut the national debt, without stripping seniors of their health care and retirement income. A good place to start is taking a hard look at the purpose and the huge amount of money America spends on military operations overseas – especially on Cold War-era military bases in Europe and Asia. We are not the world’s army nor are we their police force.

Moving forward, we need a responsible, long-term, bipartisan strategy for cutting debt and cutting spending. That plan should include making Medicare and Social Security stronger for future generations. It should include fair tax reform. And it should include spending cuts – including cuts to defense spending where we can afford them.