Trump pulls 12,000 troops out of Germany and calls Merkel ‘delinquent’

Published: 14:07 BST, 29 July 2020 | Updated: 18:24 BST, 29 July 2020

The U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home from Germany and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe, the Pentagon said Wednesday – as Donald Trump said it was because the country is ‘delinquent’ on defense.

He attacked Germany’s failure to spend more of its budget on its military as the Pentagon outlined a plan to slash the U.S. presence there by a third, a move which will cost ‘single digit billions.’ 

Trump bluntly said Wednesday morning at the White House: ‘We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent.’ 

‘We spend a lot of money on Germany, they take advantage of us on trade and they take advantage on the military, so we’re reducing the force,’ he said as he waited to board Marine One for a campaign trip to Texas.

‘They’re there to protect Europe, they’re there to protect Germany, and Germany is supposed to pay for it.We don’t want to be responsible anymore.’  

A number of forces will go to Italy, and a major move would shift U.S. European Command and Special Operations Command Europe from Stuttgart, Germany, to Belgium.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that some moves will begin in months and will leave about 24,000 troops in Germany.  

Trump has repeatedly accused Germany of failing to pay bills, which is a misstatement of the issue. NATO nations have pledged to dedicate 2% of their gross domestic product to defense spending by 2024, and Germany is still short of that goal, at about 1.4%. 

They won’t pay: Despite his defense secretary claiming the move was a strategy to rebalance forces, Trump said: ‘We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent.’

Troops out: Hundreds of soldiers were flown into Poland earlier this month to take part in a NATO exercise there. Now Trump is to step up the U.S. presence in Poland and withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany

Currently the U.S. has about 47,000 troops and civilian personnel in Germany, spread out across a number of bases, headquarters and smaller installations. 

Most of the 36,000 on active duty are in a handful of larger Army and Air Force bases including Ramstein Air Base, a hub in the region. 

There also are 2,600 National Guard and Reserve forces in Germany and almost 12,000 civilians working for the services or the Defense Department.

The number is vastly lower than during the Cold War when it reached an all-time high of 272,000 soldiers alone in 1962 – plus USAF personnel, and some elements of the Navy – and was not much lower when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, with 213,000 soldiers based in Germany and prepared for a tank war with the Soviets.

The war on terror dramatically changed the reason for being in Germany with Ramstein being used as the key base for deploying troops to first Afghanistan, then Iraq.

It is one of the foreign bases Trump has visited, along with one each in Iraq and Afghanistan, posing for photos with troops as he returned from a post-Christmas trip to Afghanistan in 2018.

High-profile patient: Among those treated in military hospitals in Germany were Private Jessica Lynch, who was separated from her unit during the invasion of Iraq

Thousands of wounded troops have been treated at Landstuhl, and a massive new military hospital is still being built at Weilerbach, which would be the largest outside the U.S. with 5,000 rooms, nine operating rooms and 42 specialty departments. 

Germany is also home to both European and African Command and is used to relay drone communications around the world.

He added that he might rethink the decision to pull troops out of Germany ‘if they start paying their bills.’

He said that while the decision was ‘accelerated’ by Trump’s orders, the moves also promote larger strategic goals to deter Russia, reassure European allies and shift forces further east into the Black Sea and Baltic regions – an explanation contradicted by the president. 

The announcement is closely tied to the plan to increase the U.S. troop presence in Poland, a shift long desired by Warsaw and Polish President Andrzej Duda. 

Officials said the moves will require construction at bases in the U.S. to accommodate the additional forces. 

Members of Trump’s own political party have criticized the troop move as a gift to Russia and a threat to U.S. national security. Twenty-two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee fired back with a letter to Trump saying a reduced U.S. commitment to Europe’s defense would encourage Russian aggression and opportunism.

It is a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression,’ he tweeted.

Bavarian prime minister Markus Soeder on Wednesday criticized the decision, saying that Germany still hoped the next U.S. administration would scrap the plan.

‘We very much regret the U.S. government’s decision. Unfortunately, this puts a burden on the German-American relationship,’ Markus Soeder said.

He added that the U.S. troop withdrawal served no clear military purpose, and would even weaken the NATO alliance and the United States itself. 

The decision to keep nearly half the forces in Europe is a clear move by the Pentagon to assuage allies by avoiding the complete withdrawal of 12,000 troops out of the region. 

And by spreading forces into the east, it sends a message to Russia that the U.S. is not reducing its commitment to the region and remains ready to protect Eastern Europe from any Moscow aggression.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has voiced support for the plan while also acknowledging it will take ‘months to plan and years to execute.’ 

He was briefed on the issue last week, and he issued a statement saying the ‘concept for realigning U.S. military posture in Europe’ is sound.

Trump announced last month that he wanted to cut the number of active duty U.S. troops in Germany from roughly 36,000 to less than 25,000. 

Shifting forces out of the country had long been rumored and is in line with Pentagon efforts to put more troops in the Indo-Pacific. 

But Trump’s comments indicated the move was tied more directly to his anger over Germany’s failure to meet NATO defense spending goals.

Trump has branded Germany ‘delinquent’ for failing to meet a NATO goal set in 2014 for members to halt budget cuts and move toward spending at least 2% of gross national product on defense by 2024. 

And he asserted that the Germans had long shortchanged the United States on trade and defense, declaring that ‘until they pay’ more for their own defense, he will reduce U.S. troops.

At a Rose Garden event last month with Duda, Trump said that some of the troops from Germany would go to Poland and some would go to ‘other places.’

Winner and loser: Poland’s president Andrzej Duda wants more U.S. troops in his country, which the Pentagon withdrawal strategy will deliver. But Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is a consistent Trump target for not spending more on defense

Trump in Germany: The president met U.S. troops at Ramstein in December 2018 after an unannounced post-Christmas visit to Afghanistan

Logistic hub: The massive airbase at Ramstein is key to American operations in the Middle East. It appears unaffected by the troop withdrawal order

Under an agreement announced last year, the U.S. already said it was sending about 1,000 more troops to Poland, and progress is being made, officials said, to lay the groundwork for those moves.

Based on that agreement, the U.S. will add a division headquarters, a combat training center, an unmanned aircraft squadron and structure to support an Army brigade that could rotate in and out of the country.

Overall, the U.S. has about 47,000 troops and civilian personnel in Germany, spread out across a number of bases, headquarters and smaller installations. 

Most of the 36,000 on active duty are in a handful of larger Army and Air Force bases including Ramstein Air Base, a hub in the region. 

There also are 2,600 National Guard and Reserve forces in Germany and almost 12,000 civilians working for the services or the Defense Department.

After Trump’s meeting with Duda, Esper in early July made a rare overseas trip to NATO for a brief visit, seeking to reassure allies that Washington is still committed to the region and that he will consult with them on troops movements.

Several NATO defense ministers had expressed concern about the decision to pull thousands of troops out of Germany, particularly since Trump has talked repeatedly about bringing troops home and getting the U.S. out of ‘endless wars.’

Share what you think

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.

You can choose on each post whether you would like it to be posted to Facebook. Your details from Facebook will be used to provide you with tailored content, marketing and ads in line with our Privacy Policy.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiZWh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmRhaWx5bWFpbC5jby51ay9uZXdzL2FydGljbGUtODU3MjM1My9PZmZpY2lhbHMtVVMtYnJpbmdpbmctNi00MDAtdHJvb3BzLWhvbWUtR2VybWFueS5odG1s0gFpaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZGFpbHltYWlsLmNvLnVrL25ld3MvYXJ0aWNsZS04NTcyMzUzL2FtcC9PZmZpY2lhbHMtVVMtYnJpbmdpbmctNi00MDAtdHJvb3BzLWhvbWUtR2VybWFueS5odG1s?oc=5

News – Trump pulls 12,000 troops out of Germany and calls Merkel ‘delinquent’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *