WASHINGTON and COLOGNE, Germany – US President Donald Trump The goal is to withdraw 10,000 American troops from Germany it will take years to execute, according to Senate Services Committee Chair Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
Inhofe’s disclosure, after he was briefed by Pentagon officials about the plan, showed that there would be no hasty criticism to be feared, but a more protracted approach. Troops are potentially a fast reaction force against Russia and can be deployed quickly to the Middle East and Africa.
“It is clear to me that this concept will take months to plan, and years to execute,” Inhofe said in a statement after Wednesday’s briefing. “Rigorous planning and deliberate implementation of this concept is the best way to give our military families a certain level of certainty and ensure they receive the care and support they deserve.”
Trump administration officials have planned for the past two months to begin withdrawing major troops from NATO allies, to put at least 9,500 personnel into other bases abroad or in the United States, and to limit the total number of US troops stationed at 25,000. (The total is almost 35,000 now).
Officials have suggested the move is designed to reduce US footprint in an ally abroad and not spread American response forces – some further east – for more strategic flexibility. Critics say the move will undermine America’s commitment to the NATO alliance and risk a major center for training and staging troops.
Trump started the move partly because he believed Germany was not spending enough on national defense, and that European countries were taking advantage of American military power.
As a loyal ally of the president, Inhofe appeared to part with other hawkish Republicans in announcing his support for the president’s “vote” approach to “realigning US military posture in Europe.” Inhofe said he supported “a lily-pad approach to base” and cited Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania as other locations to consider.
But Inhofe also hedged by emphasizing military families, whose lives would change with rapid withdrawal.
“We need to maintain a strong presence in Europe to prevent Russia, maintain a flexible platform to project power to other theaters such as Africa and minimize the impact of these changes on military families who have sacrificed a lot for our country,” he said.
However, this issue is expected to be a point of friction in talks between the Senate and the Parliament to reconcile them annual defense policy bill. The version endorsed by House included a bipartisan language that rebuked the withdrawal plan, while the Senate did not take a similar bipartisan amendment led by Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed concern about the plan. Twenty-two members of the GOP from the DPR Armed Committee letter to Trump last month which stated that the current troop level in Germany had “helped make America safer.”
The Senate-approved bill includes a requirement that the Pentagon report to Congress on allied annual military spending, based on amendments from Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah. The annual report must include joint defense contributions from NATO countries and other allies, including the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The House of Representatives and Senate bill also expresses the feeling that Congress wants the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to “model NATO allies in terms of load sharing,” and two laws encourage the US to pursue coordinated plans for those countries. ‘security continues.
The Foreign Office bill approved by the House includes $ 11.4 million each in foreign military financing for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with $ 115 million for Ukraine and $ 35 million for Georgia.
Meanwhile, leaders in Berlin appear to have reconciled the idea that the White House might actually continue to “reposition” US troops out of Germany, as US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy called the move.
Officials in Europe initially ignored the withdrawal rhetoric, first reported in the United States in early June, only because the Trump administration had left them completely in the dark. The fear now is that reconfiguring US footprints on the continent could effectively lead to a decrease in troops, both in Germany or elsewhere.
“The decisive question for Europe and NATO is whether these troops will be expelled from Europe or not,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said during a trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, at a July 17 event organized by the Globsec think tank.
“We are not truly happy when our American friends leave us,” he said. “That’s one thing. But that would not cause German security to collapse. “
He stressed that Germany and Poland, who have been named potential hosts for troops scheduled to leave Germany, should speak with one voice when Pentagon leaders complete their plans. Polish leaders have made it clear that any additional Americans in their country would not be desirable if the price was a reduction in other parts of the alliance, he added.
“Therefore, this problem is not an obstacle to our bilateral relations,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said of the Berlin-Warsaw relations.
Leo Shane III contributed to this report.