The United States announced plans Wednesday to withdraw 12,000 American troops from Germany, as President Donald Trump continues pressing the NATO ally to contribute more in common defense spending.
What are the details?
The Associated Press reported that “the U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe” as part of “a Pentagon plan that will cost billions of dollars and take years to complete.”
“We’re moving forces out of central Europe, Germany, where they’ve been since the Cold War,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper explained,” saying that forces will be shifted closer to Russia, “where our newest allies are.” Esper added that some troops may be temporarily deployed to the Baltics.
The move comes after President Trump vowed last month to cut the number of U.S. troops in Germany by one third due to the ally’s failure “to meet NATO’s defense spending target,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. There are currently around 36,000 American military personnel in the country.
“We don’t want to be the suckers anymore,” President Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday, regarding the decision. “We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent.”
He added that he might reconsider the decision to withdraw troops from Germany “if they start paying their bills.”
ArmyTimes noted that the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps all base their European command headquarters in Germany. But part of Germany’s position as a central hub in the region will also be revoked as part of the Pentagon’s plan.
CBS News reported:
The headquarters for the European Command and the European Special Operations Command, currently located in Stuttgart, Germany, will be relocated to NATO headquarters in Belgium. Esper said this would begin within weeks and cost several billion dollars.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romeny (Utah), a frequent critic of the president, blasted the decision, saying in a statement, “The plan outlined by the Administration today to remove thousands of U.S. troops from Germany is a grave error. It is a slap in the face at a friend and ally.”
But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said allies were already aware of U.S. plans, which were welcomed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda who said in a statement: “I value very favourably the news that the US mentioned possibility of moving some troops to the Baltic countries.”