In a conference on Wednesday U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper explained the details and reasoning behind President Trump’s move to relocate American troops out of Germany.
“The current EUCOM plan will reposition approximately 11,900 military personnel from Germany, from roughly 36,000 down to 24,000, in a manner that will strengthen NATO, enhance the deterrence of Russia, and meet the other principles I set forth,” Esper said.
The defense secretary stated the “size, composition and disposition of U.S. forces in Europe has changed many times” and went on to explain the multiple reasons that went behind the decision.
The desire to pull troops out of Germany has long been on the radar. During the president’s campaign, Trump promised several actions that would be taken during his tenure to support his “America First” strategy.
“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,” Trump said in the conference on Wednesday.
“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,” quoted the Daily Mail.
The move can also be seen as a gesture towards Warsaw as Poland will most likely receive a chunk of the relocated soldiers, wrote CNBC. President Anderzej Duda of Poland was actually the first foreign official to meet with Trump after the start of the 2019 COVID-19 pandemic.
“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… 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.”
However, Trump’s plan to move troops hasn’t come without resistance.
According to CNBC, “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.”
The plan to move troops across the European continent reflect the change in this administration’s thinking towards America’s relationship with her European allies. White House Robert O’Brien wrote a fiery defense of the intended troop movement in an op-ed for 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,” quoted CNBC.