U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade prepare to board an aircraft prior to an airborne operation in Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 24, 2020.
Spc. Ryan Lucas | U.S. Army photo
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has selected an option for withdrawing U.S. military personnel from Germany and redeploying those forces elsewhere, the Pentagon said in a statement Tuesday night.
“The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff briefed the President yesterday on plans to redeploy 9,500 troops from Germany. The proposal that was approved not only meets the President’s directive, it will also enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, reassure Allies, improve U.S. strategic flexibility and U.S. European Command’s operational flexibility, and take care of our service members and their families,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Tuesday.
“Pentagon leaders look forward to briefing this plan to the congressional defense committees in the coming weeks, followed by consultations with NATO allies on the way forward,” Hoffman added.
The movement of 9,500 U.S. service members from Germany resurfaces claims made by the Trump administration that the NATO ally has been “delinquent in their payments” to NATO.
Trump has frequently dressed down NATO counterparts and threatened to reduce U.S. military support if allies do not increase spending. Last year while in London, Trump singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for not meeting the 2% of GDP spending goal set in 2014.
“So we’re paying 4 to 4.3% when Germany’s paying 1 to 1.2%, at max 1.2%, of a much smaller GDP. That’s not fair,” Trump said in December. According to the NATO figures, the U.S. spends less than Trump noted, 3.42% of GDP on defense, while Germany now spends 1.38%, which is an increase of about 11% from 2018.
Last week, senior administration officials discussed Poland’s President Andrzej Duda’s visit to the White House, the first by a foreign leader since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The White House officials would not offer details of the partial withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany and would not discuss the possibility that service members could potentially be relocated to Poland.
Instead, the officials touted Warsaw’s financial commitments to NATO as well as the approximately $16 billion in foreign military sales, which includes the U.S.′ most expensive weapons system, the F-35 Lightning II fighter.
The administration officials also volleyed questions on the matter to White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien’s op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
“The Cold War practice of garrisoning large numbers of troops with their families on massive bases in places like Germany is now, in part, obsolete. Modern warfare is increasingly expeditionary and requires platforms with extended range, flexibility and endurance. While air bases and logistics hubs remain important, the Cold War-style garrisoning of troops makes less military and fiscal sense than it did in the 1970s,” O’Brien wrote in an op-ed published on June 21.
He added that the 25,000 U.S. troops slated to remain in Germany still represents a “strong” commitment to Germany by the United States.