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Pentagon details downsizing of US forces in Europe

The number of troops stationed in Europe will be reduced by more than 11,000 by 2017, defense officials said on Thursday.

Families affected by the moves were notified on Thursday, Stars & Stripes reported on its website.

About 80,000 U.S service members are currently deployed throughout Europe.

Two infantry brigades, the 170th Infantry Brigade and the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, each with 3,850 soldiers, will be moved off the European continent in the next two years, defense officials said in a news release.

The 170th, which is redeploying to Baumholder, Germany, from Afghanistan, will begin moving with troops' families this summer. The 172nd, now in Afghanistan, first will redeploy this summer to Germany, then moving with troops' families in the summer of 2013.

Read the full list of changes to US forces stationed in Europe

The Pentagon also announced the closure of Army garrisons in Schweinfurt, Bamberg and Heidelberg by fiscal year 2015.

Reductions in U.S. forces in Europe were announced earlier this month as part of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's plan to slash $487 billion from the Pentagon budget. Which units would move, however, had not been announced.

In a news conference Thursday with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, Panetta said a sizable force will remain in Europe.

“Despite these changes,” Panetta said, according to Stars & Stripes, “over 40,000 U.S. troops will still be based in Germany, training at state-of-the-art facilities.”

Maiziere said the move goes from “quantity to quality.”

“The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany is no complaint to me because a lot of troops will remain in Germany,” Maiziere said.

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