Major US military units to leave Germany as part of large drawdown to begin within weeks, Esper says
The U.S. will bring about 6,500 troops home from Germany and move about 5,400 more to other countries in Europe, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.
The plan would fulfill President Donald Trump’s demands to remove thousands of troops from Germany, which he has long derided as delinquent on its defense spending obligations within NATO. The announcement also comes after a monthslong review of American force strength in Europe, where some troops are permanently stationed and others deploy on rotational tours to train alongside NATO allies in an effort to deter Russian aggression in the region.
“It is important to note that in NATO’s 71-year history, the size composition and disposition of U.S. forces in Europe has changed many times,” Esper said during a Pentagon news briefing. “As we’ve entered a new era of great-power competition we are now at another … inflection point in NATO’s history. I am confident the alliance will be all the better and stronger for it.”
Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What’s that all about? Also, Germany is very delinquent in their 2% fee to NATO. We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
Some forces will be moved “within weeks,” he said. It was not immediately clear which units would move first.
The withdrawal will leave some 24,000 troops in the country. Pentagon officials have told lawmakers it will take years to complete.
Esper said the review of American forces in Europe was sped up after Trump ordered the removal of U.S. troops from Germany last month. Other reviews of troops in regions across the globe are ongoing and could result in other changes in force postures around the world, he said.
In addition, the Army’s newly established 5th Corps headquarters is slated to move into Poland, and other units are being considered for stationing in Poland and the Baltic states, he continued.
The 2,500 airmen now stationed at the U.K.’s RAF Mildenhall, who had been scheduled to reposition to Germany, will now stay put, Esper said.
Sources: DoD – Pentagon -C-Span