President Donald Trump has faced criticism from Democrats and some hawkish Republicans in recent months regarding his proposal to dramatically scale down the presence of U.S. troops in Germany.
Nevertheless, he is following through with the plan and announced on Wednesday that his administration had begun the process of reducing the American military presence in Germany by nearly 12,000 service members, according to the Associated Press.
“They haven’t paid their fees”
More than half of that number will be returning home to the U.S. while the remainder would be redeployed to other strategic locations in Europe as part of the continued North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission to guard against potential Russian aggression. Prior to boarding Marine One on Wednesday for a trip to Texas, the president addressed the decision with reporters.
“Well, Germany is delinquent,” he said. “They haven’t paid their fees. They haven’t paid their NATO fees.”
Making the case for a military drawdown, Trump went on to assert that Germany has “no intention of paying it” and has taken advantage of its allies — specifically the U.S.
“But Germany owes billions and billions of dollars to NATO,” he continued. “And why would we keep all those troops there? And now Germany is saying it’s bad for their economy. Well, it’s good for our economy. Germany is delinquent. They’re at 1%. They should be at 2%.”
His comment referred to the NATO standard that member nations spend 2% of their annual budgets on their respective militaries. In response to a follow-up question, Trump said that U.S. service members stationed in Germany are “there to protect Europe” and are supposed to be funded by Germany.
“We don’t want to be the suckers anymore”
“Germany is not paying for it,” he said. “So why should we leave them if they were not — we don’t want to be the suckers anymore.”
Later the same evening, the president reiterated his message on Twitter, asserting that “Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia.”
Expressing concern about the situation, he tweeted that Germany is “very delinquent” in its NATO funding responsibilities and the U.S. is “therefore moving some troops out” of the country.
U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper offered additional details in a separate news conference, confirming that some redeployments could begin “within weeks” and describing the overall mission as “a major strategic and positive shift, wholly in line with the (National Defense Strategy) and consistent with other adjustments the United States has made within NATO in previous times.”
Trump’s commitment to holding Germany accountable is further evidence of his administration fulfilling its “America First” promises.