U.S. troop withdrawal from Germany highlights discord between two key NATO allies

President Trump's order to the Pentagon may be interpreted as an unwitting gift to Russia

Last Updated:
June 8, 2020 - 2:39pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President Trump has reportedly told the Pentagon to remove 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany by September. The removal will leave 25,000 troops stationed in Germany. The number of troops on the ground will now also be capped at 25,000 — that number has previously risen to more than 50,000.

The move reflects some tension between Washington and Berlin over security issues and German military spending in the region. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the decision had nothing to do with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's announcement that she will not be attending the G-7 meeting at Camp David at the end of the month.

Trump has long expressed his frustrations at German levels of military spending, publicly stating on a number of occasions that NATO allies should be contributing more dollars to measures set up in the interest of their own defense. The president is also displeased with the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will export natural gas directly from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

Richard Grenell, the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and recent acting Director of National Intelligence, has previously encouraged a removal of some American forces from Germany. 

Germany has historically been a major European hub for U.S. military training and several significant military bases have been established over the years. Though some of the troops may be relocated to other parts of Europe, the infrastructure that took years to build will not be joining them. 

Critics of the withdrawal fear that it will present Russia's Vladimir Putin with military advancement opportunities that will prove detrimental for Europe. The move also presents optics of discord between two key NATO allies. 

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