WASHINGTON. — The Trump administration announced plans yesterday to withdraw almost 12 000 troops from Germany, a sweeping continent-wide reorganisation that has provoked bipartisan congressional opposition and widespread dismay in Europe.
Secretary of Defence Mark Esper told a Pentagon briefing that the move would benefit Washington’s strategic interests abroad, strengthening NATO and deterring Russia, and equipping the military for “a new era of great power competition”.
But President Donald Trump has previously offered a different explanation, suggesting the planned drawdown is punishment for his long-standing complaint that Germany does not spend enough on its military.
It has alarmed congressional Republicans and Democrats, and is seen by many in Europe as emblematic of the dramatic deterioration in relations between Washington and Berlin under Trump.
Esper said the number of US troops permanently based in Germany would be reduced by around 11 900, from some 36 000 to 24 000. That’s even more than the 9 500 announced last month.
Almost half, around 5 600, will move to other parts of Europe including Belgium, Poland and Italy. The other 6 400-odd troops will initially come back to the US, with many of them then beginning shorter rotational deployments back in Europe, in places such as the Black Sea region and the Baltics.
In addition, several US military headquarters would be moved out of the country, including US European Command which will move to Belgium, he said.
The move will cost single-figure billions of dollars, and will begin “as expeditiously as possible,” with some elements starting “within weeks”.
Most of the US troops in Germany are currently stationed at the Ramstein Air Base, the largest American military facility outside the continental US. — NBC News.