Trump’s decision to remove troops from Germany as ‘gift to Putin’

Trump’s explanation to reporters about the withdrawal, announced Wednesday morning by Defense Secretary Mark Oslo, incorrectly pointed to questions about how NATO operates and contradicts its own military officials Decided what strategy – if any – decided.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah described Trump’s move as “a gift to Russia” and “a slap in the face of a friend and aide”. Romney stated that “the consequences would be permanent and detrimental to American interests.”

Aspects of the move, including the cap on American personnel in Germany, were “troubling,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, a Republican Republican senior on the House Armed Services Committee.

“It’s hard, if not impossible, to see any benefit,” said Rachel Rizzo, director of programs for the Truman National Security Project, specializing in European security.


Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commanding general of the US Army Europe, said in a tweet that he was “sickened by this decision and explanation. It is not tied to any strategic advantage and is actually counterproductive to show strength in Europe” is.” . “

And the former top military commander of Europe and NATO, US Navy Adam, Jim Stravidis, said in a tweet, “abruptly pulling 12,500 troops from Germany (placing half of them in countries that don’t spend LESS for defense) . ” The sentiment hurts NATO’s solidarity financially, and is a gift [Russian President Vladimir] Putin ”

Analysts say the withdrawal of US troops from Germany draws them from a central location with a sophisticated transport and logistics network that speeds the movement of troops and equipment into Europe and beyond – allowing a powerful counterweight for Russia .

Reducing the American footprint in Germany could cost billions spent on upgrading American military facilities and require billions to be spent replicating those resources elsewhere. Among other issues, military analysts also say replacing permanent troops with rotational forces can make training with host countries more challenging and create morale issues.

Analysts and lawmakers raised the possibility that Trump simply wanted to punish German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he has a cordial relationship and whom he has incited in private phone calls. And he pointed to the gains gained by Moscow and Putin, whom the president has cultivated.

Trump himself outlined the thinking on Wednesday, stating that the troop cuts had to do with Berlin’s failure to meet defense spending targets, nor for strategic reasons when it announces the move. Arizona faced Moscow.

The president recently spoke to Putin last Friday, the latest in a series of phones that CNN’s Marshall Cohen has documented as the most sustained publicly disclosed period of contact between the two leaders. In an interview released on Wednesday, Trump told Axios that in that conversation, he did not gather US intelligence to allege that Moscow offered Taliban fighters a reward for killing US troops in Afghanistan.

It is unclear if the two leaders discussed Trump’s plan to reduce the US military presence in Germany, which would have meant a breakup against a possible aggressive invasion. But when Arizona announced the troop, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “Champagne should flow freely this evening in the Kremlin.”

Esper explained that the current plan is to relocate about 11,900 military personnel from Germany, whose numbers range from about 36,000 to 24,000. A US defense official said that 5,400 of the soldiers who left Germany “will live in Europe”. The remaining 6,400 forces and their families will be returned to the US and time, remodeling Europe.

However, stating that the move came with the intention of helping prevent Russia, it did not appear that any US forces were permanently sent to the countries closest to NATO’s eastern border with Russia, those countries Despite longstanding requests for such forces.

Italy and Belgium

One of those countries, the President of Lithuania, posted on Twitter, “We are ready to accept more US troops.”

But most of the troops remaining permanently in Europe will instead be moved to Italy or Belgium, with countries not most concerned about the Russian threat posted.

“There may have been other opportunities to move additional forces in Poland and the Baltic as well”, said Otto, without offering much in the way of nuances.

Removing American troops from Germany gives them the “best place they can work from. The German logistic network, which the US is able to access,” says Jeff Rathke, president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University. . Is very sophisticated – airspace and bases, rail network, which allows the US to transfer equipment. ”

“Germany is a central place from which America can move forward,” said Rathke. Pointing to the combination of Germany’s location with its transport and logistics, Rathke said, “You cannot duplicate other places. They do not exist in Poland or the East.”

Menendez noted in a statement that Germany “does not allow the effort of an advanced forward presence in Eastern Europe to counter Russia,” but also “for American security interests in the Middle East and Africa.”

“That stage is not easily replicated anywhere else,” Menendez said.

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There is also the question of how much US taxpayers will have to spend at the time of recording the US budget deficit. The military’s move would cost “several billion dollars”.

The Pentagon would be running away from the billions spent between 2004 and 2011 on upgrades to secure and consolidate US military locations in Germany, Hertling said, only to replicate facilities such as housing, schools, headquarters and barracks in new locations Is for

Rathke explains that there are also costs to bring troops back to America. “If you are going to bring people back from Germany, where are you going to keep them and is it budgeted, whether it is housing or the infrastructure for these people returning from Europe.”

NATO said in a statement that the declaration “underscores the continued commitment by the United States to NATO and European security.”

But Hertling said that “what is clear to me – after serving 12 years in Germany and participating in the final force structure change from 2004-2011, is not a ‘strategic’ move.” Instead, he said, “It’s disruptive, and affects readiness … especially when it’s all happening without previous planning.”

‘Virtuous Merkel’

In addition, Hertling was among many who argued that the president’s decision is about “punishing Merkel” and is “a personal insult to Germany, our great and very ally, especially from Trump.”

Agath Demaris, global forecasting director of The Economist Intelligence Unit, said the move is part of a broader story of disintegration in US-German relations that is “partly due to mutual enmity between the political leaders of the two countries.” Merkel and Trump are “different characters and have failed to form any sort of synergy since Trump came to power in 2016.”

The Germans themselves reported that in carrying American troops, the Trump administration is working against some of its stated targets.

Norbert Roetgen, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament, a staunch Merkel ally, tweeted on Wednesday that the withdrawal of 12.000 troops from Germany, which is outlined, comes to the fore. “Instead of strengthening #NATO it’s going to weaken the alliance,” Roetgen said. “America’s military dominance will not increase, but will decrease with regard to Russia and the Near and Middle East.”

In Bavaria, which hosts several US bases, the state governor, a member of Merkel’s conservative bloc, said, “We regret the decision of the US government.”

“Unfortunately, it seriously harms German-American relations,” Marcus Sauerder said. “A military advantage cannot be seen. It only weakens NATO and the USA.”

CNN’s Fred Plegen in Berlin contributed to this report.


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