US Pulling Almost 12,000 Troops From Germany

The United States is pulling almost 12,000 troops from Germany, following through on President Donald Trump’s call to reduce the U.S. military footprint in a country he described as “delinquent” in defense spending. Under the plan, 5,600 U.S. troops will be redeployed from Germany to other NATO allies, including Belgium and Italy. Another 6,400 will return to the United States, though most of the forces will then embark on what the Pentagon is describing as “continuous rotations” to the Black Sea region. “These changes will achieve the core principles of enhancing U.S. and NATO deterrence of Russia, strengthening NATO, reassuring allies and improving U.S. strategic flexibility,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Wednesday. FILE – A woman takes a picture with U.S. soldiers, who are part of a NATO multinational battalion on their way from Germany to Orzysz, northeastern Poland, during a military picnic with NATO troops in Wroclaw, Poland, March 27, 2017.”This is something we want to do. We feel very good about [it],” Esper added. “We want to get there as quickly as possible because of the importance it has to the [NATO] alliance and to deterring Russia.” Esper and other Pentagon officials say the redeployments will begin in “a matter of weeks,” though they admit numerous details have yet to be worked out. The exact cost of making the changes has also not been determined, with officials saying the price tag will likely be several billion dollars, though they described that as just “rough estimates.” FILE – The flags of the United States and Germany fly behind a sign at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, July 30, 2014.The U.S. currently has 36,000 troops stationed in Germany at numerous installations, such as Ramstein Air. In addition, Stuttgart, Germany, is home to both the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Africa Command.   Under the new plan, though, the U.S. will relocate U.S. European Command [EUCOM] headquarters, along with U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, from Stuttgart to Belgium, along with about 2,000 troops. U.S. Africa Command could also leave Stuttgart, though officials said they have yet to formulate any concrete plans. In addition, 2,500 airmen who had been scheduled to redeploy to Germany from an airbase in Britain will now stay in Britain. Additional troops could also be sent to Poland once an agreement, currently under discussion, is finalized. Top U.S. defense officials say they have been in contact with the U.S. State Department and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to help facilitate the changes. “It requires diplomacy,” Esper said.  “I had a good conversation last week with the German defense minister and laid out some of these in detail,” he added. “We will obviously be engaging the defense ministry in the coming days and weeks with more detail.” German officials had been pushing for U.S. troops to remain in Germany, saying it would be regrettable if those forces were to leave. “We are an important base for US troops” #Germany Defense Minister @akk Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer tells #EUDefense in prerecorded interview when asked about impending US pullout”We on German soil are also contributing to American security”— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) July 8, 2020″What we are discussing is the security of the [NATO] alliance,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told a virtual forum earlier this month. “America needs allies. America needs like-minded allies based on the same values and those are especially the states in Europe,” she said. Trump publicly called for cutting the number of troops in Germany during a White House news conference with the Polish prime minister last month. “Germany is paying a very small fraction of what they’re supposed to be paying,” Trump said of Germany’s defense spending.  “They really owe a lot of money in NATO, and this has been going on for many years,” he said. “That’s not treating NATO fairly, but it really isn’t treating the United States fairly.”