Washington/Berlin: US President Donald Trump has informed of his decision to withdraw troops from Germany. ‘Every year, Germany pays Russia in billions for oil and also expects the US to protect them from the country. That is unacceptable. Germany has been avoiding its contribution of 2% towards NATO defence spending. That is the reason the US is withdrawing its troops from Germany,’ Trump said. Making a change to military deployments in Europe is a positive and significant amendment to its policy, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said as he informed of the decision. Furthermore, Senior military official General Tod Wolters reported that the US was relocating its EU military headquarters and Command for US Special Operations forces from Germany to Belgium.
Last month, US President Trump had approved the plan to withdraw its troops from Germany. Trump said, ‘Even as the US spends 4% or more of its GDP on NATO defence, Germany spends a mere 1.2% of its GDP on defence,’ as he expressed his disapproval to Germany. President Trump also had clashes with the German leadership over the losses the US had to bear in bilateral trade with the EU and the gas pipeline project the EU was constructing with Russia’s help. Considering the circumstances, the US President’s decision assumes significance.
Since World War II, the US forces have been deployed in Germany. The US had made the deployments to protect Germany given the threat from the Soviet Union. The deployments were considered critical not just for Germany but also for the security of other nations in Europe. Nevertheless, when Donald Trump took over as President of the US, he called on all NATO member nations to contribute and help share the burden of the defence spending. ‘The US has spent a significant amount of money on the security of the NATO member nations although now, the other members need to step up as well and contribute more towards defence,’ said Trump.
According to the details provided by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and senior military officials, the US withdrawal would not have a significant impact on EU security. The Defence Secretary said that the Defence Department had determined five objectives and made changes accordingly. These included deterring Russia, reassuring European allies, strengthening NATO, improving US strategic flexibility and EUCOM operational flexibility, and lastly take care of service members and their families in the process. The changes to the military arrangements in Europe were part of the US’ National Defence Strategy, claimed Esper.
The US military headquarters in Europe, which is based in Germany, houses over 47,000 soldiers and officials. Of these, 36,000 troops are deployed at the Ramstein Air Base as well as other bases in Germany. Also, 11,900 of them will be withdrawn from Germany and 5,600 of whom will be relocated to Italy, Belgium, Poland and other Baltic states. At the same time, the US military headquarters in Europe, which is the US European Command and Special Operations Command, located in the German city of Stuttgart, will be relocated to Belgium. Besides, US military officials indicated that the 6,400 US soldiers, who are being deported back to their homeland, will be deployed in the Black Sea Region after a while. Last year, the Polish government had proposed to establish a US military base in the country.
After the US announcement of the withdrawal, around 24,000 soldiers are to remain deployed at German bases. Moreover, despite Germany expressing its disappointment at the US decision, some German leaders and analysts have appealed to maintaining a dialogue with the US on security.