US Troops Out: Trump’s Troop Cuts in Germany Slammed as ‚Gift to Putin‘

Written by | Monday, August 3rd, 2020

The United States‘ Department of Defense says Washington plans to move its European military headquarters out of Stuttgart, Germany to Belgium, as it announced broader plans to shift 12,000 troops out of Germany on orders from President Donald Trump. Nearly 5,600 others will be moved to other NATO countries, while some 6,400 active US troops in Germany will be sent home, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news conference on Wednesday (29 July). About 24,000 troops will remain in Germany, a country considered one of the US’s closest allies and trading partners since World War II. Esper said that the moves aim to promote larger strategic goals to deter Russia, reassure European allies and shift forces further east into the Black Sea and Baltic regions.
The US defense secretary also said that the decision, which was “accelerated” by Trump’s previous calls in June to withdraw troops, will see some military personnel going to Poland and the Baltic states if Warsaw follows through on an agreement already sketched out by the two sides. Trump has repeatedly slammed Germany for allegedly not spending enough on defence. The withdrawal is also in line with the president’s “America first” platform and campaign pledges to wind down US involvement overseas. Germany is currently the centre of US military operations in Europe, as well as a hub for operations in Africa and the Middle East. Washington also said that the military personnel shift would likely send air and ground forces to other countries that already have an American troop presence.
While Pentagon officials have sought to focus on the strategic motivation behind the moves, Trump reiterated his criticism of Germany, saying the country had not paid its share of NATO defence costs. “Germany is delinquent; they’re at one percent, not two percent,” the president told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday (29 July). “They’ve taken advantage of us for many years,” he said, but added that he may change his mind “if they start paying their bills”. Meanwhile, US opposition Democrats, as well as high-profile members of Trump’s own party, have pushed back against the US troop withdrawal since the intention was first announced. Twenty-two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee in June sent a letter to President Trump, warning that a reduced US commitment to Europe’s defense would encourage Russian aggression and opportunism. Democratic candidate Joe Biden, if elected, will review the Republican incumbent’s decision to withdraw the troops from Germany, his aide told the media earlier this month.

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