“These changes will achieve the core principles of enhancing U.S. and NATO deterrence of Russia, strengthening NATO, reassuring allies and improving U.S. strategic flexibility,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said about the decision to bring 6,400 American troops home from Germany and shift 5,600 elsewhere in Europe.
“We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, adding that “if they start paying their bills,” he said he may rethink the plan.
From Fox News: A number of the forces will go to Italy, while the headquarters of the U.S. European Command and Special Operations Command Europe will be relocated from Stuttgart, Germany, to Belgium.
Esper told reporters Wednesday that the movements – which will cost in the “single-digit” billions of dollars – will keep about 24,000 troops in Germany and shift other forces further east into the Black Sea and Baltic regions.
Some of the troops returning stateside will later conduct rotational deployments “back to Europe,” he added.
Germany is a hub for U.S. operations in the Middle East and Africa. The decision to keep nearly half of the 12,000 affected troops in Europe, the Associated Press says, is a clear move by the Pentagon to assuage allies by avoiding their complete withdrawal from the region.
And by spreading forces into the east, it sends a message to Russia that the U.S. is not reducing its commitment to the region and remains ready to protect Eastern Europe from any Moscow aggression.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has voiced support for the plan while also acknowledging it will take “months to plan and years to execute.” He was briefed on the issue last week, and he issued a statement saying the “concept for realigning U.S. military posture in Europe” is sound.
Enter Mitt Romney:
“The plan outlined by the administration today to remove thousands of U.S. troops from Germany is a grave error,” Romney said.
“It is a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression,” he added.
“And it is a gift to Russia coming at a time when we just have learned of its support for the Taliban and reports of bounties on killing American troops.”
“The move may temporarily play well in domestic politics, but its consequences will be lasting and harmful to American interests.“