WASHINGTON: The United States will slash its military presence in Germany by 11,900 troops in what the Pentagon called a “strategic” repositioning, but President Donald Trump said was to punish Berlin for its weak defense spending.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the Pentagon will be sending home about 6,400 of its military personnel in Germany, and move nearly 5,600 to other NATO countries, including Italy and Belgium.
Some could also be relocated to Poland and the Baltic countries if Washington can reach agreements with them, he said.
The move, which will cost the US government several billion dollars, will cut the presence of US military personnel in Germany to around 24,000.
Esper stressed that the action is part of his broader plan to reposition US military forces globally to better address the key threats from Russia and China.
“The repositioning of our forces in Europe constitutes a major strategic and positive shift,” Esper said.
“These changes will unquestionably achieve the core principles of enhancing US and NATO deterrence of Russia; strengthening NATO; reassuring allies; and, improving US strategic flexibility,” he said.
But at the White House, Trump told reporters that Germany has not paid its fair share for the defense of Europe.
“We don’t want to be the suckers anymore…. We re protecting Germany, so we re reducing the force because they re not paying the bills,” said the US leader.
In moves that could begin within weeks, some US command operations currently in Germany will be moved to Belgium and Italy.