WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- As demanded by US President Donald Trump, Defense officials announced on Wednesday that it will withdraw about 6,400 troops from Germany and transfer around 5,600 to other European countries.
- Trump has repeatedly said that Germany failed to pay enough on its defense even though it already increased and worked on attaining the two percent benchmark by 2024 as pledged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations.
- The plan’s implementation is still uncertain as it needs to get Congress’ support and funding, notwithstanding that Trump needs to get reelected to have it enforced.
US defense officials said on Wednesday that the country will be pulling out around 6,400 troops from Germany back home and will shift about 5,600 to other European countries.
President Donald Trump demanded the withdrawal effort after Germany failed to spend enough on its defense. The move would transfer forces to Italy and would shift US European Command headquarters and Special Operations Command Europe from Stuttgart, Germany, to Belgium.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper justified the plan as legislators have denounced the movement and perceived it as Trump’s gift to Putin. Esper said that even if it was “accelerated” by the president, the initiative would also exhibit extensive strategies to halt Russia and give reassurance to European allies.
“We’re moving forces out of central Europe, Germany, where they’ve been since the Cold War,” Esper said. The defense secretary added that it will shift US forces east, closer to Russia, “where our newest allies are.”
Trump voiced out his reason on Wednesday as he told reporters: “We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent.” But then added that he may reconsider his decision if Germany would “start paying their bills.”
A total of 22 Republican congressmen from the House Armed Services Committee wrote a letter to Trump, saying that the pull-out effort would exhibit more hostility from Russia. The plan also drew criticism from Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who described the move on Wednesday as a “grave error” and a direct insult to Germany.
Meanwhile, Jens Stoltenberg, North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Secretary-General, implied a warm reception of the plan and said that the White House has been in touch with them recently. Last month, the alliance was caught off guard on Trump’s announcement to withdraw the forces.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended Germany’s defense investment, saying that it has already increased and is working towards the two percent budget. In a joint statement, Germany’s Defense and Foreign ministries said that the movement “is not yet complete and may be subject to further adjustments.”
Trump has exaggeratedly blamed Germany for failing to pay its bills. The NATO nations pledged to allocate two percent of their gross domestic product to defense budget by 2024. Currently, Germany spends about 1.4 percent.
The plan, which would entail billion dollars expenditure and would take years upon completion, is still uncertain. It needs to rely on Congress’ support and funding. Some legislators have already expressed their disagreement, and there’s no assurance that Trump would get another term.
Source: ABC News