Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that President Trump has approved of a plan to withdraw about 12,000 US troops from Germany, a move Trump directly tied to long-standing complaints that Germany doesn’t “pay more” for its own military.
The US has demanded Germany spend 2% of its GDP on military for years. Trump has falsely claimed Germany owes the US billions over that, and had repeatedly threatened to cut back the troops in Germany, something Germans were broadly comfortable with.
Of the troops, 6,400 will return to the US, while another 5,400 will be deployed elsewhere in Europe. It’s not clear where, but Poland was previously tapped to receive about 2,000 troops in the process.
Congress already opposed the cuts, and went after today’s announcement, at least the third time it’s been announced with roughly the same figures. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) says the cuts are a “gift to Russia” while others were deeply critical.
CNN also attacked the cuts, saying they’d “cost billions and take years.” It’s not clear that’s true, as Esper said the costs would be in the single-digit billions, but there is certainly no reason moving 12,000 troops would take years.
The cut comes with Douglas Macgregor coming into the German Ambassador post. He is on board with the cuts, and will stand with Trump on the push to limit US forces there.
The 2021 NDAA has clauses which aim to limit the ability to cut troops from Germany, but will likely be too late to impact these cuts, instead just restricting future cuts.