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German state leaders sound alarm on US pullout

July 20, 2020

As the US military prepares to cut its presence in Germany, the leaders of four German states have urged US lawmakers to oppose the move. In a letter, the state leaders asked them "not to sever the bond of friendship."

Donald Trump in Ramstein
Donald Trump visited the Ramstein air base in 2018Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Craighead

The state premiers of Bayern, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rheinland-Palatinate wrote to members of the US Senate and Congress in a bid to stop the US from drastically cutting its troop presence in Germany. All four of the German states host US military bases.

The troops form "the backbone of US presence in Europe and NATO's ability to act," the state leaders said in the letter seen by the Reuters news agency and several German newspapers.

"We therefore ask you to support us as we strive not to sever the bond of friendship but to strengthen it, and to secure the US presence in Germany and Europe in the future," the German politicians said.

The document is addressed to 13 US lawmakers, including Republican senators Mitt Romney and Jim Inhofe. Last month, a bipartisan group of six US senators pushed against the move.

Thousands to leave

The cut was announced by US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly berated Berlin for not investing enough in defense and for treating the US "badly" on trade issues.

Washington said the cut would "enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, reassure Allies."

Germany: US troop decampment?

The Pentagon is planning to move some 9,500 soldiers out of the European country,reducing the 35,000-strong contingent currently stationed there. However, the US military has yet to announce specific reduction plans. Some of the Germany-based forces, such as the troops operating the Ramstein air base, serve to supply US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others serve as US military headquarters for operations in Africa and Europe.

The news of the move prompted harsh criticism in Germany, with senior conservative lawmaker Johann Wadephul saying it should serve as a wake-up call for Europeans.

"The plans show once again that the Trump administration is disregarding an elementary task of leadership: the involvement of allies in the decision-making process," Wadephul said last month, urging Europeans to take their fate into their own hands.

dj/nm (AFP, Reuters, dpa)