Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Wednesday said the US has planned to withdraw 11,900 military personnel from Germany, reducing American troops in the European country from some 36,000 to 24,000.
During a press conference, Esper said that among the US troops that would be withdrawn, about 5,600 will be repositioned to other NATO countries, while the rest will return to the US with some beginning rotational deployment back to Europe.
The Pentagon chief said, “We also plan on rotating forward the lead element of the Army’s newly established V Corps headquarters to Poland, once Warsaw agrees to a Defense Cooperation Agreement and burden sharing details, as previously pledged”.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that US allies are exploiting the country on defense spending.
Last month, Trump announced that he wanted to cut the number of active duty US troops in Germany from roughly 36,000 to less than 25,000.
The reposition announcement came as relations between Washington and Berlin have become strained.
Earlier this month, Esper made a rare overseas trip to NATO for a brief visit, seeking to reassure allies that Washington is still committed to the region and that he will consult with them on troops movements. Because of the coronavirus threat, international travel has been significantly limited.
Several NATO defense ministers had expressed concern about the decision to pull thousands of troops out of Germany, particularly since Trump has talked repeatedly about bringing troops home and getting the U.S. out of “endless wars.”
(With inputs from agency)