President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw thousands of troops will take years to implement and could potentially cost billions of dollars to achieve, according to US defense officials.
The plan to withdraw US troops from the longtime NATO ally was met with widespread bipartisan opposition amid fears that it would weaken the US military’s stance on Russia, but the Trump administration has decided to continue.
Approximately 11,900 U.S. servicemen, a mix of military and air force, will be withdrawn from Germany to meet Trump’s mandate of 25,000 U.S. forces in Germany, according to a senior U.S. defense official with a number higher than 9,500. , which was used when the discount was first announced.
Authorities said the discrepancy was due to the fact that an inspection revealed that there were slightly more US troops permanently deployed in Germany, about 36,000, than originally planned.
Of the troops leaving Germany, about 5,400 will “stay in Europe”
The remaining 6,400 forces and their families will be returned to the United States and will eventually be redeployed to Europe on a rotating basis, remaining permanently based on the continent.
Defense officials say it will cost billions of dollars, as new military construction is likely to be required in both Europe and the United States to house additional troops.
The defense official confirmed that the repositioning would take “months of planning and years of implementation,” a schedule first unveiled earlier this month by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, who was briefed on the plan.
The schedule suggests the plan could be canceled if Trump loses the November election.
Defense officials say German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karenbauer and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have been briefed on the planned withdrawal, as well as key members of Congress.
Defense officials said Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the repositioning was aimed at boosting deterrence against Russia, strengthening NATO and supporting the families of members of the US service.
However, Trump, who is leading the move, said he did so because of Berlin’s inability to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% of GDP on defense, spending only about 1.38%.
“One of the only countries that has not agreed to pay what they have to pay (for NATO) is Germany. So, I said, until they pay, we remove our soldiers, a number of our soldiers, from about half. Then “When we get to about 25,000, we’ll see where we’re going,” Trump said last month.
However, defense officials said Wednesday that the decision on where to house US troops leaving Germany is not influenced by whether the new host country meets the 2 percent target.
While Germany’s national leadership has largely remained silent about troop reductions, local leaders representing the states where US troops are stationed have recently written to members of the US Congress asking them to help overturn the decision.
“We pray that this deep partnership will continue and that American forces will remain in their places in Europe and Germany,” wrote the leaders of the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bavaria.
“Therefore, we ask you to support us, as we strive not to destroy the bond of friendship, but to strengthen it and ensure the presence of the United States in Germany and Europe in the future,” the letter added.