Germany Confirms U.S. Eying Troop Cuts Despite Concerns Over Russia

June 10, 2020 19:49 GMT – By RFE/RL

The German government says it has received formal notification of a possible partial withdrawal of U.S. troops stationed in the country, a move that some worry sends the wrong signal to Russia and damages NATO security.

The June 10 announcement follows media reports that U.S. President Donald Trump had ordered the withdrawal of up to 15,000 of the approximately 34,500 U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany. Both the White House and NATO have declined to comment on the media reports.

“The federal government has been informed that there are considerations in the U.S. administration to reduce the presence of the U.S. armed forces in Germany,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told journalists in Berlin. “As far as we know, there has been no final decision,” she added.

Some U.S. lawmakers have warned that if implemented, the reported plan would damage U.S. national security and strengthen Russia’s position in Europe. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump planned to move forward with the withdrawal of up to 9,500 U.S. personnel, while the German news magazine Der Spiegel said between 5,000 and 15,000 could be withdrawn later this year.

Earlier this week, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), suggested that if the United States goes ahead, it would do more harm to NATO as a whole than to Germany’s own defense.

“I don’t want to speculate on something for which I have no confirmation,” she told a news conference on June 8. “The fact is the presence of U.S. troops in Germany serves the entire security of the NATO alliance — so American security too. That is the basis on which we work together.”

Germany hosts more U.S. troops than any other country in Europe. But transatlantic ties have become strained under Trump, who has repeatedly criticized Germany and other European countries for not fulfilling their NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of economic output on their militaries. Berlin has pledged to increase military spending, but meeting the NATO target would likely not happen before 2030.

In an open letter dated June 9, 22 Republican members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said they were “very concerned about reports that the Administration is considering a significant reduction of U.S. troops currently based in Europe as well as a cap on the total number of U.S. troops which can be present there at any one time.”

“Such steps would significantly damage U.S. national security as well as strengthen the position of Russia to our detriment,” the lawmakers wrote, adding: “In Europe, the threats posed by Russia have not lessened, and we believe that signs of a weakened U.S. commitment to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism.”

3 comments

  • The US troops will be effective wherever they will be. I’m surprised this article didn’t even mention the new base coming in Poland and the troops that will relocate there. They will probably go to other countries that honor their 2% responsibility. If Germany got it their way, they would get their cheap Putin gas AND charge the Americans to protect them…

    Liked by 4 people

  • Move them all and redistribute proportionately to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.
    When it comes to harsh words about people he hates, such as John McCain, Trump is a master. If only he could start turning his sharp tongue on the people that deserve it. Only when he thoroughly excoriates putler will his media fans stop grovelling to the tiny poisoner.

    Liked by 4 people

  • onlyfactsplease

    “But transatlantic ties have become strained under Trump, who has repeatedly criticized Germany and other European countries for not fulfilling their NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of economic output on their militaries. Berlin has pledged to increase military spending, but meeting the NATO target would likely not happen before 2030.”

    Trump, this time, is not the one who is straining the relationship. It is Germany. It has not only failed for many years to live up to its fair share of defense spending, but also rants against Trump on a continuous basis. Germany has wasted billions on useless projects, including 30 to 50 billion a year on its illegal immigrants and even more to shore-up Southern EU countries that only waste money and cannot for the life of them to create efficient and frugal economies and governmental systems. Germany’s plan to meet NATO commitment by 2030 is a joke and might never be met. We should exit all of our troops from this semi-leftist country and move them to Eastern European countries, which not only fulfill their commitments bur also appreciate US assistance in their defense.

    Liked by 1 person

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