President Donald Trump has long campaigned on reducing America’s massive military footprint around the globe, including by withdrawing troops deployed to “never-ending” war zones and even reducing the number of troops assigned to peaceful posts in allied nations. Now, reports indicate that the president is prepared to act on that promise.
According to Business Insider, “Trump has directed the Pentagon to pull thousands of U.S. troops out of Germany” — and to place a cap on the number of soldiers who can be permanently assigned there.
Citing unconfirmed, anonymously sourced reports from both the Wall Street Journal and CNN, Business Insider alleged that President Trump had approved a plan that was signed off by National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. The plan would direct the Defense Department to withdraw up to 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany.
According to Business Insider, the White House hasn’t yet formally ordered the withdrawal of troops, but will do so soon. The reduction is reportedly set to occur some time in September.
In addition, a cap of no more than 25,000 U.S. troops would be imposed on American bases in Germany, Business Insider noted.
There are currently about 34,500 U.S. troops in Germany, Business Insider reported, though there is space for up to 52,000. The central European country has played host since the Cold War for hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and is home to massive U.S. military airfields, bases, and hospitals.
“Pay more attention”
The Washington Post, also citing unnamed Trump administration officials, similarly reported on the plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany, ostensibly due to President Trump’s oft-stated disappointment that Germany has failed to live up its agreement with NATO to spend at least 2% of its annual budget on its own military.
But according to the Post, Germany was given no “heads-up” by the Trump administration regarding the plan to reduce troops, and German authorities are reportedly less than pleased at being left out of the loop.
“The plans show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary task of leadership, to bind coalition partners into decision-making processes,” Johann Wadephul, who The Guardian described as “the deputy chair of the parliamentary group of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union,” said of the move, according to the outlet. Wadephul went on:
Everyone profits from the alliance sticking together, only Russia and China profit from discord. Washington should pay more attention to that.
“The real danger”
It remains unclear at this time where, exactly, the roughly 9,500 U.S. troops set to be pulled from Germany will be stationed. There is some thought that they could be returned home to the U.S., though there also remains the possibility that they could be redeployed elsewhere in Europe — perhaps to Poland, which would undercut the narrative that Trump is weakening European defenses against Putin’s aggression.
“The real danger lurks across the eastern border, so moving U.S. troops to Nato’s eastern flank will be a security boost to all of Europe,” Poland’s prime minister said Saturday, according to The Guardian.
He added that talks between Poland and the U.S. remain “ongoing,” The Guardian reported.