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U.S. tab for bases in 3 nations on rise, report finds

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 8:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The United States is footing more of the bill for overseas bases in Germany, Japan and South Korea even as the military reduces the number of American troops in Europe and strategically repositions forces in Asia, a congressional report says.

The exhaustive, yearlong investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee focused on costs and burden-sharing as the United States spends more than $10 billion a year to back up the U.S. military presence overseas, with 70 percent of the amount expended in the three nations. The figure does not include military personnel costs.

The panel's report released on Wednesday found the financial contributions by those host countries lagging behind costs or increases in U.S. spending. The report identified inherent problems and missteps in the compensation system as the United States returns a growing number of its upgraded facilities on foreign land to the host countries.

The report insisted that the American presence in the countries is vital, especially with bellicose threats from a nuclear North Korea, China's military growth and Germany's partnership with the United States in NATO. However, the Pentagon is facing the pressure of deficit-driven, smaller budgets while looking to scale back or close bases.

The cost arrangements with allies have drawn greater congressional scrutiny — and frustration.

“The growth in our share has really been pretty stunning. And I think we've got to stop that direction,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee.

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