Two conservative German politicians have criticised the reported US decision to withdraw more than a quarter of American troops stationed in Germany.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to reduce the number of US troops in Germany by 9,500.
Currently there are 34,500 American service members permanently assigned in Germany as part of a longstanding arrangement with America’s NATO ally.
In an interview published on Saturday by Germany’s Funke Media Group, politician Norbert Roettgen said such a troop withdrawal would be “very regrettable.”
Roettgen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Union bloc who chairs the German parliament’s foreign policy committee, was quoted as saying that he couldn’t see “any factual reason for the withdrawal” and that US soldiers were welcome in Germany.
Johann Wadephul, the deputy chairman of the Union’s parliamentary caucus, said the US decision to withdraw troops without consulting with its NATO allies “shows once again that the Trump administration is neglecting basic leadership tasks.”
German news agency dpa quoted Wadephul as saying that Russia and China would benefit from discord within the Western alliance.
An official, who did not want to be identified, said the move was the result of months of work by US top military officer General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and had nothing to do with tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who thwarted Trump’s plan to host a G7 meeting this month.
A second senior administration official said the 9500 troops would be sent elsewhere, some to Poland, some to other allied countries, while some would return home.
This official said there was less need for the large contingent in Germany due to overall increased defence spending by the US-led NATO military alliance.
The second official said the change was ordered in a memorandum signed recently by Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien.
The official said the United States started working on the plan last September and had just now got the pieces in place.
About 17,000 US civilian employees support US troops in Germany.
It is believed the United States also has nuclear warheads there.