US announces withdrawal of nearly 12,000 troops from Germany

This is the latest consequence of Donald Trump’s relentless criticism of NATO. Pentagon chief Mark Esper announced on Wednesday July 29 the withdrawal of some 12,000 troops from Germany, presenting the project as strategically necessary. Following the announcement, President Donald Trump said he was ready to reverse this decision if Germany increased its financial contribution to NATO.

Of the approximately 34,500 troops currently deployed in Germany, approximately 6,400 will be repatriated to the United States while the remaining 5,600 will be repositioned in other NATO countries, notably Belgium and Italy, the US minister said. defense during a press conference.

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Mr. Esper assured that this movement represented “ a major and positive strategic change ”, in particular as a deterrent against Russia.

“These changes will undoubtedly achieve the core objectives [qui sont] to raise the level of US and NATO deterrence against Russia, to strengthen NATO, to reassure allies and to improve US strategic flexibility. “

But just minutes after his press conference at the Pentagon, Donald Trump explained that the withdrawal was due to Germany’s refusal to “Pay more”.

“We’re tired of being pigeons”, said the Republican billionaire from the White House. “We are reducing our forces because they are not paying. It’s very simple. “ Mr. Trump has hinted that this plan could be revised. “If they started paying their bills, I would think about it. “

Relocation of the US military command to Europe

The project, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars, will bring the US military strength in Germany to around 24,000, Esper said. Around 2,000 troops will be divided between Italy and Belgium. The US Military Command in Europe (Eucom), currently based in Stuttgart, will move to Mons, Belgium, where the NATO command is located, sparing the US General who traditionally heads the two commands back and forth between the two. two countries.

A squadron of F-16 fighter jets based in Germany will be sent to Italy, closer to the Black Sea, where they can protect NATO’s south-eastern flank, the defense minister said. The US military command for Africa (Africom), also located in Stuttgart, could also move, but no decision has yet been taken, the Pentagon chief said.

The 2,500 US Air Force personnel stationed at Mildenhall Base in the United Kingdom, and who were to reposition in Germany, will remain in the United Kingdom. Washington is also considering repositioning forces in Poland and the Baltic States, if an agreement is reached with these countries on their status.

A workforce reduction announced in June

Mr Esper said the first moves could come in ” a few weeks “, but no massive withdrawal is expected immediately. The number two of the American staff, General John Hyten, stressed that the project was, for the moment, only one “Concept”. “We must now make a plan”, he added.

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Although their numbers have declined since the Cold War, Germany hosts more American troops than any other European country, a legacy of the Allied occupation after World War II. The withdrawal of these American forces could have a significant financial impact on the cities concerned, notably Stuttgart, where the commands for Europe and Africa are located.

Mr. Trump, who accuses Germany of profiting financially from the American military presence, announced in June the reduction in the American military, in the midst of a period of tension with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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The World with AFP