President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany, administration officials said Friday, in a move that would mark a large drawdown in the US military presence in Europe.
Currently, there are 34,500 US troops stationed in Germany, and the move would reduce that number to 25,000. The change was ordered in a memorandum recently signed by national security advisor Robert O’Brien and had been in the works for months under the direction of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, according to The Guardian.
Administration officials also said that there would be a cap on the number of U.S. forces in Germany placed at 25,000 troops, and that the additional troops currently in Germany would either be deployed to other bases in Europe or sent back home by September, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Trump administration has clashed with Germany several times over a number of issues related to security and defense. The president has repeatedly said that NATO members like Germany should contribute more money to the defense organization, although Germany has rejected these claims.
Trump has also criticized Germany’s energy dealings with Russia, viewing German dependence on Russian natural gas as potentially undermining the security guarantees between the United States and Germany. (RELATED: Germany Profits While U.S.-Russian Tensions Rise)
Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also recently soured on each other after Merkel rejected Trump’s invitation to attend an in-person G7 meeting, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Defense officials denied that the move was related to the recent spats between Trump and Merkel or to previous disagreements between the United States and Germany.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot did not confirm the move, but said Trump “continually reassesses the best posture for the United States military forces and our presence overseas,” according to The Hill.