Donald Trump has ordered the US military to remove nearly 9,500 troops from Germany in a move likely to raise concerns in Europe about the US commitment to the region.
The move would reduce US troop numbers in Germany to 25,000, compared with the 34,500 currently there, a senior US official said.
‘Regrettable’: Germany reacts to Trump plan to withdraw US troops
The official said the move was the result of months of work by America’s top military officer, General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and had nothing to do with tensions between Trump and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who thwarted Trump’s plan to host a G7 meeting this month.
A second senior administration official said the 9,500 troops would be sent elsewhere: some to Poland, some to other allied countries, and the rest would return home. The official said there was less need for the large contingent in Germany because of overall increased defence spending by the US-led Nato military alliance.
The second official said the change was ordered in a memorandum signed recently by Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien. The official said the United States started working on the plan last September and had just now got the pieces in place.
The move is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Trump’s presidency. Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a captive of Russia due to its energy reliance.
About 17,000 US civilian employees support the US troops in Germany. It is believed the United States also has nuclear warheads there.
In May, the then US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, accused Berlin of undermining Nato’s nuclear deterrent, taking aim at Merkel’s junior coalition partners after some of their leaders called for nuclear disarmament.