The US president has signed off on a plan that would have 9,500 US troops leave Germany. Some 34,500 US soldiers are currently stationed in the country.
US President Donald Trump approved a plan to withdraw 9,500 US troops from Germany, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper presented the plan to the president on Monday. It will "enhance Russian deterrence" and strengthen NATO, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
No details on troop movement were provided.
In June, Trump had called for cuts to the approximately 34,500 US troops currently based in Germany, saying Berlin had been "delinquent" in its contribution to NATO. He also bashed Germany for buying energy from Russia.
Republican senators push back against plan
On Monday, a bipartisan group of US senators announced efforts to limit Trump's ability to pull troops from Germany by restricting tax payer dollars.
The team of six senators, who included big-name Republicans Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio, unveiled an amendment to national defense spending legislation for 2021 that would curb the use of funds for reducing troops in Germany until the defense secretary submits a report "certifying" that a withdrawal would not threaten US security and allies.
Spokesman Hoffman said the Pentagon will consult with NATO allies "on the way forward" in the coming weeks.
Pentagon officials say that if the reduction takes place, some of the troops could be deployed to former Eastern Bloc countries — some on a permanent basis but most in short-term rotations — to send a message to Moscow.
While Polish leader Andrzej Duda visited Washington last week, Trump said some of the US troops could go to Poland. "Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places. Poland would be one of those other places," he said.
kp/sri (AFP, dpa)