The US has just announced that they plan to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany. 5,600 troops would be redeployed to other European locations, including Italy and Belgium, and 6,400 would return to the US, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the move would support NATO and deter Russia, but President Trump explained that it would also punish Germany for their lack of smart defense action.
“They’ve taken advantage of us for many years,” Trump said. “We don’t want to be the suckers anymore.”
Trump has complained about Germany’s defense spending in the past, also emphasizing that Germany and other NATO members need to meet the alliance’s goal of spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.
“Let’s be clear, I think Germany is the wealthiest country in Europe,” Esper said. “Germany can and should pay more to its defense.”
The shift would also help President Trump begin to fulfill his 2016 election promise of bringing American troops home. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, alongside other European allies, were surprised by President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops without prior consultations. Air Force General John Hyten, though, assured that those consultations would occur as the withdrawal moves forward.
The recent move would still leave about 24,000 forces in Germany and will probably take years to complete.
General Tod Walters, commander of U.S. forces in Europe and NATO’s supreme allied commander, said that the operation most likely to move would be the US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany.
“We are now at another one of those inflection points in NATO’s history,” Esper said. “I’m confident the alliance will be all the better and stronger for it.”
Read the full report here.