The United States should consider withdrawing some troops from Western Europe and the Western Pacific unless American allies in those regions pick up more of the cost and burden of defending against the Soviets, a congressional study said Saturday.
"U.S. diplomacy has failed in attaining equitable burden-sharing," concluded the report by the House Armed Services Committee.The document was the latest in an increasingly loud, election-year chorus of calls from Congress to have America's allies pay more for defense.
Reagan administration officials have agreed that U.S. allies should do more, but have rejected any attempts to force allied increases and have instead relied on trying to persuade other nations to increase their defense commitments.
Even as the report was issued, the Senate is considering legislation that would force U.S. allies in Japan and Western Europe to do more.
The report was prepared by the Armed Services defense policy subcommittee, which held a series of hearings on the subject.
It said "the United States should perform a zero-based study of U.S. military bases and commitments overseas in order to assess and prior-itize U.S. interests in various countries and regions of the world and realign and possibly withdraw some U.S. forces in some locations."
No locations or possible troops levels that might be withdrawn were spelled out in the report.
But it did note the panel wasn't in favor of "near-term, large-scale U.S. troops withdrawals from Europe so long as a reasonable possibility exists for negotiating asymmetrical conventional force reductions with the Soviet Union."
The Reagan administration's attempt at pursuading U.S. allies to do more simply hasn't worked, the report said, and won't be effective unless the United States is ready to act.
"As long as the U.S. accepts carrying a disproportionate share of the free world's defense burden, the allies will be reluctant to assume a greater share," the report said.
It noted that both Japan and Western Europe were rebuilt from the wreckage of World War II chiefly with U.S. aid. Now, those areas are strong.
"Many Americans feel that we are competing 100 percent militarily with the Soviets and 100 percent economically with our defense allies," it said. "Some have said that the United States has incurred all the burdens of empire and few, if any, of the benefits."
Speaking of the 16-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the report "states in the strongest possible terms that Europeans had better be prepared to defend their own territory without a large-scale U.S. ground commitment, because that commitment cannot be guaranteed forever."
The United States maintains about 325,000 military personnel in Western Europe.
The Senate will renew work Monday on a Pentagon budget bill that puts some restrictions on U.S. troops overseas.