According to US President Donald Trump, it will take years to pull out thousands of troops, and they will potentially cost billions of dollars, according to US defense officials.
The plan to withdraw US troops from the longtime NATO ally was met with broad bipartisan opposition amid fears that it would weaken the US military position on Russia, but the Trump administration has decided to continue the move.
Approximately 11,900 U.S. troops, a mixture of Army and Air Force units, will be evacuated from Germany to meet Trump’s mandate of 25,000 U.S. forces in Germany, according to a senior U.S. defense official, a figure higher than the 9,500 used when the reduction was first announced.
Officials said the discrepancy was due to the fact that the survey found that slightly more US troops were being deployed to Germany, about 36,000, than originally planned.
Of the troops leaving Germany, about 5,400 will be “in Europe”;, but the official did not specify where they will move, saying only that they will remain in countries that have already deployed US troops in a quality that includes most European members of NATO.
The remaining 6,400 troops and their families will be returned to the United States and rotate to Europe on time, remaining permanently based on the continent.
Defense officials have said it will cost billions of dollars as new military construction may be needed in both Europe and the United States to deploy additional troops.
The defense official confirmed that the redeployment would take “months to plan and years to complete,” a timetable first unveiled earlier this month by Senate Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, who reviewed the plan.
The schedule suggests that the plan could be canceled if Trump loses the election in November.
Defense officials say German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have been briefed on the planned landing, as well as key members of Congress.
Defense officials said Defense Secretary Mark Esper had instructed that the reshuffle was intended to increase deterrence against Russia, strengthen NATO and support the families of members of the US service.
However, Trump, who led the move, said he did so because Berlin’s failure to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% of GDP on defense, spending only about 1.38%.
“One of the only countries that has not agreed to pay what they have to pay (NATO) is Germany. So, I said until they pay, we remove our soldiers, a few of our soldiers, about half. Then, when we if we go down to about 25,000, we’ll see where we’re going, “Trump said last month.
However, on Wednesday, defense officials said the decision on where to deploy US troops leaving Germany was not affected by whether the new host country would reach the 2 percent target.
Although Germany’s national leadership is largely silent on troop reductions, local leaders recently representing US troops have written to members of Congress asking for help in overturning the decision.
“We pray for the continuation of this deep partnership and for American forces to remain in their places in Europe and Germany,” wrote the leaders of the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bavaria.
“Therefore, we ask you to support us, as we seek not to sever the bond of friendship, but to strengthen it, as well as to ensure the presence of the United States in Germany and Europe in the future,” the letter added.