German officials immediately thwarted the plan. Norber Rettgen, chairman of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, told POLITICO that the move would weaken NATO’s alliance and reduce the effectiveness of US forces against Russia and the Middle East.
“I stand for it: reducing the US military is not in the interests of Germany’s security or NATO – and it doesn’t make geopolitical sense for the United States,” Peter Beyer, the German government’s transatlantic coordinator, said on Twitter. more cooperation to develop the future. “
U.S. lawmakers on both sides criticized the move in June after the first reports appeared. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Quickly condemned the move on Wednesday.
“Our forces have been declining in Europe for many years for good reasons. But we are always adjusting troops in consultation with Germany and NATO. Trump is doing it on a lark. Probably just to embarrass Germany,”; he tweeted. “No plan. No consultation. To make it a very bad idea.”
The plan calls for the relocation of the headquarters of the US European Command and the European Special Operations Command from Germany to Belgium, EUCOM Commander General Todd Walters said. In the future, the headquarters of the US African Command and the US Special Operations Command Africa may also move from Germany to a new location, he said.
Esper and other senior officials argued that the new approach to deploying more rotating forces, as opposed to troops stationed abroad, would increase deterrence against Russia, improving the readiness of the deployed forces and providing a more flexible, “stable” presence, especially in on the Black Sea and on NATO’s south-eastern flank.
“Our EUCOM US strategy requires increasing speed in our endeavors and continuous improvement,” Walters said. “This agreement allows us to restrain Russia, to help NATO, to strengthen the alliance, to improve Secretary Esper’s strategic flexibility and to increase the operational flexibility of EUCOM.”
Many of the 6,400 troops returning to the United States will begin rotating deployments. 4,500 members of Germany’s Second Cavalry Regiment will return to the United States as other Stryker units begin to rotate in the Black Sea region. Of the 5,600 German troops deployed elsewhere in Europe, about 2,000 will travel to Belgium for staff work. Another 2,500 troops, currently planned to be deployed in Germany from the UK, will remain in the UK. A squadron of fighters and elements of the fighter wing will be sent to Italy.
After Warsaw signs an agreement on defense cooperation and burden-sharing, the United States will also return its main military unit to Poland, Esper said. According to him, there may be additional opportunities to move forces to Poland and the Baltics.
There are currently no plans to move any troops to the Indo-Pacific region, Esper said, despite the appearance of National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien in June, who missed the opportunity.
But the move “should send a clear, unmistakable message to our competitors,” said Joint Chiefs General John Hayten. “While we hope that Russia and China will engage in more productive and cooperative behavior in the future, we insist on our efforts to deter aggression and counter their criminal influence.”
Hans Joachim von Der Berchard and Max Cohen contributed to this report.