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MILITARY

Trump approves cutting 9,500 troops in Germany

President Donald Trump has approved a plan to slash the US military presence in Germany by 9,500 troops, the Defense Department said Tuesday.

Trump approves cutting 9,500 troops in Germany
US troops in the Patch Barracks in Stuttgart in 2016. Photo: DPA

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the move, which has sparked concerns in Berlin and in the NATO alliance, is to redeploy the troops and will “enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, (and) reassure allies,” as well as improving US strategic flexibility.

The move will cut the current troop level in Germany from about 34,500 to 25,000, Trump's stated goal.

Hoffmann gave no details on when the reductions would happen or whether the troops would be redeployed to another NATO country.

READ ALSO: Berlin confirms US considering troop cuts in Germany

He said the Pentagon will brief Congress on the plan “in the coming weeks” and then consult allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “on the way forward.”

Pentagon officials say that if the reduction takes place, some of the troops could be sent to former Eastern Bloc countries — some on a permanent basis but most in short-term rotations — to send a message to Moscow.

Worries about possible Russian expansionism surged in NATO countries after Moscow sent troops in 2014 to seize the Crimea region from Ukraine.

While Polish leader Andrzej Duda visited Washington last week, Trump said some of the US troops could go to Poland.

“Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places. Poland would be one of those other places,” he said.

Trump said earlier this month he was cutting troops due to unhappiness with Germany.

On June 15th, two weeks after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not attend a Trump-planned G7 summit because of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump complained Berlin is not spending enough on its own defense and treats the United States “badly” on trade.

READ ALSO: Trump plan to slash US troops sparks concern in Germany

“We're negotiating with them on that, but right now I'm not satisfied with the deal they want to make. They've cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars over the years on trade, so we get hurt on trade and we get hurt on NATO.”

“It's a tremendous cost to the United States,” he said. “So we're removing a number down to, we're putting the number down to 25,000 soldiers.”

Member comments

  1. “ They’ve cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars over the years on trade, so we get hurt on trade and we get hurt on NATO.”

    And yet, Trump wants to redirect many troops to Poland?? How exactly will Poland help US trade and not cost the US many dollars?

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MILITARY

US Congress moves to block Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Germany

US lawmakers have announced a bill that would delay the withdrawal of US troops until after President Donald Trump has left office, thus opening a door to a reversal of a decision announced by Trump in the summer.

US Congress moves to block Trump's withdrawal of troops from Germany
A US soldier in Grafenwöhr, Bavaria. Photo: DPA

The National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which still needs to pass through the US Congress, specifies that a troop withdrawal can only happen 120 days after the defence secretary presents a report to Congress analysing whether the troop withdrawal is in the US national interest.

In June, President Trump announced plans to withdraw close to 12,000 of the 36,000 US troops based in Germany, citing Berlin’s failure to meet its NATO spending commitments.

As Trump is to leave office on January 20th, to be replaced by Democrat Joe Biden, the bill casts doubt on the entire troop withdrawal.

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

Trump still has the chance to veto the bill, something he indicated that he would do on Wednesday, although the objections he cited in a Twitter post did not reference the block on his troop withdrawal plans. A two thirds majority in Congress could then overturn his veto.

Trump's plans met with criticism from the US military top brass, as well as from his own Republican party. In Congress, both Democrats and Trump's Republicans announced their opposition to the plans.

The bill now states that Congress continues to value Germany as a strong NATO partner. The presence of the “approximately 34,500 members of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Germany” serves as an important deterrent against Russia's expansionist ambitions in Europe, it states. 

The bill further states that the U.S. troops in Germany are of central importance for supporting U.S. missions in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.

A few weeks after Trump's announcement, the now dismissed US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper made it clear that the plans were to be implemented “as quickly as possible”. As yet though, there has been no troop reduction.

A good half of the 12,000 soldiers were to be recalled to the USA, while 5,600 were to be transferred to other NATO countries.

Three locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate would be particularly hard hit by the plans: Stuttgart, Vilseck and Spangdahlem.

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