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Pentagon clears plan to withdraw 9,500 US troops from Germany

“The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff briefed the president yesterday on plans to redeploy 9,500 troops from Germany. The proposal that was approved not only meets the president’s directive, it will also enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, reassure allies, improve US strategic flexibility, and take care of our service members and their families,” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a Tuesday statement.

“Pentagon leaders look forward to briefing this plan to the congressional defense committees in the coming weeks, followed by consultations with NATO allies on the way forward. We will be providing timely updates to potentially affected personnel, their families and communities as planning progresses,” he said.

Earlier this month, Trump announced his intent to remove nearly 10,000 troops from Germany, noting the country only pays 1.4% of its gross domestic product toward defense, when the nonbinding NATO standard is 2% of GDP.

“So we’re protecting Germany, and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense. So I said, we’re going to bring down the count to 25,000 soldiers,” Trump said. He also noted Germany treats the US “very badly on trade,” a possible reference to Berlin’s refusal to end its joint gas pipeline project with Russia, the Nord Stream 2 project, which is nearing completion and would threaten US natural gas exports to Central and Western Europe.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the troops would be redeployed to “make sure we’re postured appropriately” to counter China. Trump has also noted that some may be moved eastward from their German bases to Polish ones.