President of the United States Donald Trump has reportedly approved a plan to pull out 9,500 American troops stationed at German bases by September.
The decision to withdraw more than a quarter of US troops out of Germany comes after years of tension brewing between the US and Chancellor Angela Merkel over military spending and other security issues. The cut would reduce American troop strength in Germany to 25,000 permanently assigned service members, Wall Street Journal reported June 5.
Accusing Germany of freeloading off US military power, Trump has been pushing for Berlin to spend 2% of their GDP on military, which was agreed upon by NATO members. In November last year, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, defense minister, said Germany wouldn’t meet the NATO benchmark until 2031 because of a lack of military personnel.
“The government wasn’t officially notified by the U.S. about Trump’s plan, and it has so far only found out about the matter from media reports,” a German government official was quoted as saying by Bloomberg on Saturday.
Echoing the official’s views was Johann Wadephul, deputy leader of Merkel’s CDU-led caucus group who complained the US failed to notify the German government beforehand.
“These plans demonstrate once again that the Trump administration neglects a central element of leadership: the involvement of alliance partners in the decision-making process. For us Europeans, this is one more wake-up call to take our destiny with regard to security policy more decisively into our own hands,” Johann Wadephul, deputy leader of Merkel’s CDU-led caucus group, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
The American presence in Germany is a legacy of World War II, and became a cornerstone of the country’s Cold War defense of Europe against the Soviet Union.
On June 1 this year, the French, German, Spanish and Italian defense ministers sought an "ambitious" European Defense Fund (EDF), control over key technologies and production capabilities.
The move signals an attempt to cut reliance on US defence equipment and technology in the light of the Trump administration's insistence that European allies up their defence expenditure mainly to buy US weapons and to fund NATO budget.
European nations-mainly France, Germany, Spain and Italy have started several defence projects in land, sea and air that would cut the involvement of US companies in their platforms. US technology control regime havs prevented the sale of European defence products to third countries if they contained US-made parts.