Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday the Pentagon will withdraw almost 12,000 troops from Germany, a move that has been condemned by Republicans.
Esper said about half of the 11,900 will be placed in other NATO countries and the rest will return to the United States. Many of the units will rotate back to Europe in the future.
“Our aim is to implement these moves as expeditiously as possible… particularly being fair to and taking care of our service members and their families,” Esper said in a statement. “We could see some moves begin within weeks; others will take longer.”
“The repositioning of our forces in Europe constitutes a major strategic and positive shift.”
The Trump administration complained last month that the government was paying too much to put troops in Europe and European nations aren’t paying enough for their own defense.
Twenty-two Republican members of the House armed services committee signed an open letter last month opposing the withdrawal.
“NATO allies, such as Germany, should do more to contribute to our joint defense efforts,” the letter said. “We also know that the forward stationing of American troops since the end of World War II has helped to prevent another world war and, most importantly, has helped make America safer.”
“[T]he overall limit on troops would prevent us from conducting the exercises that are necessary for the training and readiness of our forces and those of our allies.”
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