Trump: US plans to move some troops from Germany to Poland

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he expects to shift some US troops from Germany to Poland, as his Polish counterpart acknowledged urging the American leader not to withdraw forces from Europe.

Trump: US plans to move some troops from Germany to Poland
US soldiers in Washington in April 2019 carry both American and German flags to welcome German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

“We are going to be reducing our forces in Germany,” Trump said of the 34,500 currently permanently based in Germany. “Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places but Poland would be one of those other places, other places in Europe.”

Moments earlier Trump said some troops would “probably” be moving to Poland.

The US leader was speaking at a Rose Garden press conference alongside
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who said he urged Trump to “not withdraw US
forces from Europe because the security of Europe is very important to me.”

Trump has announced that he plans to cut 9,500 troops from the country, reducing the number of service personal by one-third.

It's unclear which units would be cut, or when the reduction would occur.

READ ALSO: Trump 'to withdraw thousands of US soldiers by end of 2020'

Senior German politicians have expressed concern about the alleged US plan to cap troop numbers at around 25,000, which appeared to catch Berlin by surprise when it was announced earlier in June.

“This is completely unacceptable, especially since no one in Washington thought about informing NATO ally Germany in advance,” Merkel's coordinator for transatlantic relations Peter Beyer told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

The plan has raised fresh questions about Trump's commitment to longstanding cooperation agreements with European allies, with some observers fearing the move could undermine NATO security.

Johann Wadephul, a senior member in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, said it was another “wake-up call” for Europeans to take more responsibility for their own defence.

READ ALSO: Berlin confirms US considering troop cuts in Germany



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Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden

The German government on Friday welcomed a decision by President Joe Biden to put on hold plans to reduce US troops in Germany, saying their presence was in the countries' mutual interest.

Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden
An American soldier stationed in Germany, in front of Dresden's Military History Museum in 2016. Photo: DPA

“We have always been convinced that American troops being stationed here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security and hence is in our mutual interest,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

As part of a major foreign and security policy overhaul presented Thursday, Biden announced a freeze on plans set in motion by his predecessor Donald Trump to reduce the US troop presence in Germany, a cornerstone of NATO security since the start of the Cold War.

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US president mean for Germany?

Trump's decision was seen as linked to his tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his frequent complaints that Europe's top economy spent too little on defence.

The United States has had US troops stationed in Germany since World War II but their numbers have declined since the fall of the Berlin Wall from some 200,000 soldiers in 1990 to 34,500 today.

Although the prospect had been looming for years, Trump's decision in July to redeploy 12,000 soldiers from Germany still came as a shock, particularly to towns that have built strong economic and cultural ties to the US military.

READ ALSO: Trump to withdraw 'thousands of US soldiers from Germany' under Biden

“We strongly value the close, decades-long cooperation with the American troops stationed in Germany,” Seibert said.

He said the communities hosting GIs appreciated their presence, calling the bases “part of the lived transatlantic friendship”.  

Seibert said German officials were in “consultations” with the US administration about “further planning” but that the decision how to shape the future American military footprint in Europe was a “US domestic issue”.