Home / News / World /  US plans to withdraw about 12,000 of its troops from Germany

The US plans to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany, with some redeploying to other European nations and a little more than half returning to the US, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

Esper said the move was part of a global assessment of the US military posture and that it would both enhance the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and serve as a stronger deterrence to Russia. A US official said the process, which would leave about 24,000 forces in Germany, would likely take years.

Some forces will be sent to Italy and Belgium, while others returning to the US will still do rotations in Germany, Esper said.

The drawdown of forces from Germany reflects a long-held goal of President Donald Trump to bring more American troops home, following efforts to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Trump quickly undercut the Pentagon’s strategic arguments by reaffirming his view of Germany as a deadbeat in contribution to the Europe’s defense.

“They’ve taken advantage of us for many years," Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “We don’t want to be the suckers anymore."

Esper said only that the European troop review was “accelerated" by Trump.

European allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were stunned earlier this year by Trump’s decision to proceed with a troop withdrawal without prior consultations. On Wednesday, Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured reporters that consultations will take place as the withdrawal goes forward.

Trump objects that Germany is among members of NATO that aren’t meeting its goal of spending about 2% of gross domestic produce on defense.

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