MPs in the coming days are expected to hear more details about President Donald Trump’s plans to step down thousands of US troops from bases in Germany, but key Senate leaders have offered their support for the plan.
Senate Senate Services Committee Chair Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Said on Tuesday that he supported the idea shift the American military forces out of Germany to create “a larger number of smaller and well-placed bases that will increase our reach.” He said the exact details still needed to be worked on, but so far he had seen no reason to oppose the idea.
“Based on my talks with (Defense) Secretary (Mark) Esper and in the briefings I have received so far, the aim is to optimize the posture of our troops in Europe, partly by moving some of our troops along the east side of NATO,” he said in a floor speech about this problem.
“The plan that I have seen provides family certainty and a major phase of movement for months and years to ensure we have the necessary military construction and infrastructure in place.”
Inhofe’s comments came when lawmakers from the House of Representatives issued their draft The annual defense authorization bill, which included restrictions on withdrawing troops from Germany until Pentagon officials “stated that the reduction would not have a negative impact on US and allied security,” and banned divestment of US military infrastructure in Europe over the next five years.
White House 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 there. at 25,000 (a total of nearly 35,000 now).
Administrative officials have suggested this step is designed to reduce US footprint in an ally abroad and instead spread American response forces for more strategic flexibility.
Trump himself indicated he supports the move in part because he believes Germany is not spending enough on national defense, and that European countries are taking advantage of American military power.
Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed concern about the plan. Twenty-two GOP members from the House Armed Forces Committee sent a letter to Trump last month stating that the current troop level in Germany had “helped make America safer.”
Trump has not indicated exactly where troops currently stationed in Germany will be moved, but hinted that Poland and other neighboring countries might see their US troop levels increase as a result of the plan.
Inhofe said he supported “a lily-pad approach to base” and cited Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania as other locations to consider. “This means more smaller and well-placed bases that will increase our reach, convince our allies and suppress our enemies.”
The chairman of the armed services committee said he expected “detailed briefings” from defense officials about the plan in the coming days. He said he would focus on how the movement would affect power projections and how military families would be affected.