Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Wednesday he has ordered 40,000 troops removed from Europe and their units dissolved during the coming 12 months.

"We have to begin the drawdown now to respond in an orderly way to changing security requirements and declining defense budgets," Cheney said in a statement.The decision has no direct connection to the U.S. force deployments in the Persian Gulf area.

The defense secretary said he ordered Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to remove 30,000 Army and 10,000 Air Force members from Europe, starting in October.

The United States currently has about 300,000 Army and Air Force personnel in Europe.

Lt. Col. Rick Oborn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the affected units in Europe would be deactivated but the soldiers and airmen would be transferred to other areas.

Cheney said that to allow planning time and to ease the logistics strain, no units will be deactivated before Jan. 1, 1991.