12,000 U.S. Troops Will Leave Germany

The plan, whose timetable is uncertain, will reshuffle 5,600 troops elsewhere in Europe.


Twelve thousand U.S. troops will be leaving Germany, although 5,600 troops will stay in other parts of Europe, including Italy and Belgium, while 6,400 troops are coming back to the U.S. (although some of them may still do rotations in Europe, according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper). As President Trump said to reporters outside the White House, "They've taken advantage of us for many years. We don't want to be the suckers anymore."

Twenty-four thousand U.S. troops will remain in Germany, and the specific time table for any of the troops actually leaving is not yet clear. As Reuters reports, "U.S. officials stressed that only a relatively small number of advanced units would move anytime soon. The rest of the troop movements would take years to fully implement, in part given the potentially billions of dollars in additional cost." The U.S. is, at the same time, engaging deeper with plans for more troops and new bases in Poland.

Germany itself has spent over the past decade about a billion dollars related to the costs of our troops being there, though the U.S. still spends more on defense than all other 29 NATO allies combined, and Germany is now spending only about 1.38 percent of its GDP on defense, compared to the U.S.'s 3.4 percent.

This plan to move troops out of Germany did not come out of the blue; Trump had announced last month his intention to move what was then announced as 10,000 troops from the NATO ally, largely because he's peeved at them for not spending up to 2 percent of their GDP on their own defense.  

The American ambassador in Germany, Emily Haber, learned about these plans last month through the media, she told NPR. Congress immediately began griping about the plan, with Sen. Mitt Romney (R–Utah) announcing plans to freeze our troop numbers in Germany via an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act this year. He had Trump allies, but defense hawks, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) as cosponsors, but the amendment never came to a vote.

The Democratic House didn't like the idea, either. As Defense News reported at the time, "House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D–Wash.), said…the plan seemed strategically unsound and that Congress should block the administration until it makes its case." Various German states began lobbying Congress to stop Trump as soon as his plans became clear. Germany has been home to the largest number of U.S. troops in Europe. Germany's defense minister reacted to the initial announcement weeks ago by reminding America that Russia is still a threat and that U.S. troops are still needed in Europe to pivot to problems in Africa or the Middle East.

Sen. James Inhofe (R–Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was sold on the troop withdrawal plan but as of last week believed it would take "months to plan and years to execute." While he may have been wrong on the "plan" part, the "execute" part is still uncertain. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has already announced he'd rethink such withdrawal plans if elected.

Trump has remained mostly alone in Washington establishment circles in his belief that our current force structures around the globe aren't sacrosanct.

Defense Priorities, a right-leaning group promoting a more restrained and limited U.S. military presence around the world, said in an emailed statement from Senior Fellow Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, Ret. that "[t]he U.S. force posture in Europe continues to reflect Cold War dynamics that no longer exist…Europe enjoys a high degree of safety and is largely wealthy and technologically advanced. Russia, whose power has declined substantially since its Soviet days, is mostly a threat to its smaller immediate neighbors. Germany, the continent's leading economy, is set to rebound rapidly from the current pandemic, and has long had the means to contribute more to continental security….Troops withdrawn from Germany should be returned to the U.S. rather than reshuffled among other allies. The era of great power competition demands that U.S. allies be capable partners, not security dependents."

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  1. So you're basing your story that 12,000 troops are leaving Germany on some shit Trump said? You should realize that Trump says shit all day long and not even he pays any attention to the shit that falls out of his face. There aren't going to be any troops leaving Germany any time soon.

    1. What are you saying, that President Biden/Harris will put troops back in Germany to boost U.S. standing in the world and rattle the sabers against the Russian imperialists?

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  2. The big picture is how much you spend on the military not where you put all the shit and in this regard Trump is a disaster.

    1. You do realize that "how much you spend" is Congress's prerogative, right? The president gets little to no say in appropriations.

      1. Of course he does, but if he isn't constantly posting OrangeManBad everywhere, he won't earn his fifty-cents.

    2. Damn dude, I get not liking Trump and not wanting to give him praise. But why go out of your way to find criticism in something that's better (even if only marginally) than the status quo.

      This is why we can't have nice, non-interventionist things.

    3. And it's cheaper to keep them stateside.

      1. And where are they or other deployments going?

        I hear Poland is nice.

        1. Poland makes more sense. They're closer to Russia and are more likely to be victimized.

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    5. All other things remaining equal including total military spending, I'd much rather have those 12,000 troops moved back to the USA to defend the homeland rather than overseas threatening Russia and essentially subsidizing Germany and Europe's defense.

      And ultimately, bringing those 12,000 troops back and finding out that many of their roles are redundant will probably result in an overall troop drawdown, reducing the size of the Military Industrial Complex by both headcount and budget.

      1. Except that is not what will happen. Watch the budget which will keep growing as well as troops deployed overseas.

  3. Germany needs to pay their bills.

    They're obligated to spend a certain percentage of their GDP on national defense, and they haven't been doing that for decades because they assume the U.S. taxpayer will continue to provide for their defense. We've been suckers for years--why change now?

    If and when it was in the best interests of the United States to pick up the slack for Germany, that's one thing. Now that they're conducting foreign and domestic policy in such a way that isn't in the best interests of the United States, they can pay for their own defense.

    Meanwhile, Estonia, Poland, and the UK have been meeting their treaty obligations, and our U.S. Senate ratified treaty obligations to them remain as they always were. If Germany insists on spending less than their treaty obligations call for, then they should be free to provide for their own defense. It's as simple as that, and that's as it should be.

    P.S. President Trump has also started insisting that South Korea pay their fair share for their own defense.

    1. P.S.

      Trump has been complaining about the Germans not paying their fair share since before he was inaugurated. He only started getting serious about pulling troops out of Germany when the Germans told us that they expected to start spending the amount required by NATO--as soon as 2035.

      In other words, they gave us the finger.

      Good on Trump for calling their bluff.

      1. I agree. Germany has acted in so many ways that are inimical to US national interest. They're deadbeats. Fuck them.

      2. Of course, by 2035 the date will have been shifted three or four times and be 2052, "Really, guys, we're sure we'll make it by then."

    2. Germany tried claiming that the pension costs of former soldiers were part of their defence budget and therefore they were meeting their 2% obligation - and then some.

      The big problem is that the military is not respected or regarded as necessary by most of the German population in the absence of a direct and immediate threat. There is no benefit to a German politician to agitate for more military spending and plenty of downsides for them to do so. Expect more promises of "yes we'll get to 2% by the year ".

      A country that was once the second largest force in NATO now struggles to get a working company of tanks or squadron of fighters. This is unlikely to change even if the US withdraws more forces. You'll note that they were more upset about the reduction in spending by US Servicemen/women in the local community than by the loss of any protection provided.

      1. "The big problem is that the military is not respected or regarded as necessary by most of the German population in the absence of a direct and immediate threat."

        And why bother spending money on defense when the U.S. taxpayer will spend that money for Germany's benefit anyway?

        If they're really acting in Germany's best interests, they should</i let the U.S. taxpayer pick up their bar tab. Why spend their own money if they don't have to?

        1. I agree. During the Cold War many of the NATO member countries were able to fund their general social welfare systems thanks to the US supplying the nuclear umbrella that meant that they could keep military spending low. The cost of a conventional army big enough to keep the big bad Soviet bear at bay would have seriously eaten into their social budgets (to be fair this also applied to the US).

      2. Weren't they using broomsticks instead of rifles in some training exercise?

      3. You mean the pension costs for former invaders and occupiers?

    3. "Germany needs to pay their bills."

      To defend against the USSR? Newsflash, the cold war is over. Germany is even connected with Russia via a gas pipeline (Nord Stream 2) that runs along the bed of the Baltic sea. The connections of friendship and cooperation between Germany and Russia are actually deepening. A massive increase in German military spending aimed at staving off a Soviet threat is simply not in the cards.

      If Americans weren't such suckers, they'd be calling for US military spending along German lines rather than vice versa.

  4. NATO has out lived it's usefulness . Pull the troops from Europe, Africa, Middle East, Japan, and South Korea. I agree navy ports of call are needed . Keeping sea lanes open and free are in our interest.

    1. This. The whole idea was to jointly prepare for a war against the USSR. With that being long dead, there's no need for it anymore.

      Germany is capable of defending itself against modern day Russia if it wants to be, they just don't like the cost of it. If they feel they aren't capable, surely the EU as a whole is if they join up and make a plan. In any case, they do not need Americans to defend them anymore. They might want us to, but it's not clear to me why Germany's interests should outweigh our own when it comes to how we deploy our military.

      1. The unspoken issue going on here is that Merkel apparently has been working for some time to get what is essentially an EU military put together. Since Germany is, for all intents and purposes, the de facto leader of the EU since they've had the most stable economy for years, that army would be under German supervision.

        The US pulling out of Europe would accelerate that effort significantly.

        1. German contribution to any such EU army would be minimal as they've let their armed forces degrade to the point where sending just 12 helicopters to the Mali force in Africa meant that all pilot training for helicopters had to be put on hold - all the working helicopters and spare parts were in Africa.

          It's vastly more likely to be dominated by the French who know the value of a working military.

      2. Hell, Putin has offered for Russia to JOIN NATO, only to be rejected.
        I don't think he has any designs on taking over Estonia or Poland.
        Why would Russia even want to?

    2. Yes!

      This is what I've been saying for a dozen years or more. Have carrier / sub based battle groups to keep trade flowing. Aside from that, the Germans, Koreans, Saudis etc. need to take care of themselves. The Soviet Union is dead (hallejlujah!), Communist China may be ascendant, but can be bottled up with sea power. We do not need land bases everywhere, and they just piss off the locals (or make then rich ) (or both).

      1. Generally both. They bitch about Americans, but as we can see in this instance they then turn around and bitch when we try to leave.

  5. Absolutely outrageous.


    1. Replace the troops with long range nuclear weapons. Bring some stability to the area.

  6. Nice. How many more to go?

  7. So fewer tax dollars to support the Deutschhuren?

  8. “Germany's defense minister reacted to the initial announcement weeks ago by reminding America that Russia is still a threat” then stop buying their gas!

    1. The defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer demands to speak to the manager.

    2. And maybe build your own fucking military.

      1. Note as China has become more belligerent both Taiwan and Japan have increased their defense budgets and expanded their military, why should Germany not do the same if Russia is such a threat?

        1. Because Russia isn't really a threat.
          It's a ruse.
          The Global Socialist (non)Workers Party depends on keeping Russia as a boogeyman though.
          And they really hate that Putin won't play by their rules.
          It makes them look oh so incompetent

          1. That being said, Russia is the 2nd most capable military in the world and the only other nuclear weapons superpower, so provoking them has to be done a little bit more carefully.
            Can't just waltz in and regime change them with ease (though efforts are still ongoing)

            1. "Russia is the 2nd most capable military in the world and the only other nuclear weapons superpower..."

              No---it's China, easily---and likely No. Also China. All of the open source info on China's strategic nuclear arms is about 20 to 30 years old. They aren't signatories to major nuclear arms limitation treaties and the hundreds to thousands of miles of tunnels they've build in Shanx'I Province can hold a few thousand missiles if they wanted to. Despite how butthurt the thought makes the Federation of American Scientists.

              For Chrissake,if they aren't superior in industrial output to the US, they're at least equals. If they wanted a ~2-4 thousand missile nuclear deterrent, they could build one. Not like they've a Congress to bitch about the cost, and they've got at least three sizable nuclear armed enemies in Russia, India, and the US.

              LOL at the 200 warhead estimates.

  9. The far left is pushing the rumor that this was at Putin's request. They are full of shit as usual with their Russia hoax. Like Nadler they are sociopaths willing to cheat lie and steal to pimp their ideology.

    1. They did the same thing with pulling out of Syria, although they were probably far more assmad that we weren't giving top cover to their commie allies in the PKK anymore.

    2. Moving troops to Eastern Europe against Putin's wishes is giving into Putin. Yeah sounds like lefty logic.

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  12. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has already announced he'd rethink such withdrawal plans if elected.

    Trump did something, and therefore I will do the opposite.

    1. Trump rescues a baby from burning building.
      Biden "when I'm president I will return that child to the fire. Because I support a woman's right to choose. (Except when she won't let me feel her up in my office, then I will get her blacklisted and railroaded)".
      I am Joe Biden and I endorse this message.

      1. I got a better one.

        Guy walks into a bar. Asks the bartender to start lining them up. Bartender says “hey you seen kinda down. Want to talk about it.”

        The guy says “well you build a dozen houses. Ya walk down the street. Does anyone say Hey! There goes Robert the builder!”

        “You raise up charity to save the church. Does anyone say “Hey! There goes Robert the philanthropist.”

        “You see a school on fire. Ya rush in and save a dozen children. Does anyone say Why look there goes Robbie the rescuer!”

        Takes another drink.

        “But you fuck ONE goat...”

    2. Isn’t that the only play in the playbook?

  13. Germany's defense minister reacted to the initial announcement weeks ago by reminding America that... U.S. troops are still needed in Europe to pivot to problems in Africa or the Middle East.

    Isn't this the same guy who insinuated America was putting troops in the Middle East as part of a new crusade?

    1. Probably. Germany bitches about American militarism and American troops in Germany. America ends it's involvement in Syria, is pulling out of Afghanistan and drawing down troops in Germany. Now the Germans are bitching about what they stated they wanted the US to do.

    2. I also expect ChemJeff and Tony to be along to explain why this is just more examples of Trump's tyranny. And ChemJeff to explain how left libertarians actually support troops stationed in foreign countries for the greater good (he actually commented on a different story that the difference between right libertarians and left libertarians is that left libertarians understand that tax money has to be spent to end poverty).

  14. Three things great about being stationed in Germany: Beer, Skiing, and the autobahn. Otherwise, fuck them. I’d rather be sent to Poland.

    1. Heh I was a kiddo army brat on one of those bases, long since closed.

      One thing was they took great care of us kids. We had everything. The PX had candy, comic books, and ice cream for pennies. We had a school and school teacher. Movie theater with kid friendly movies and popcorn on Saturday. There was a library with a librarian who would give me books she thought I would like. Playground, ball field, tree fort the dads built, it was a kid paradise. So long as we stayed out of the work area we had the run of the place.

      I had no idea we were front line in the Cold War. We did go to Berlin where I saw that wall. We took a bus through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin. You could not leave the bus. That made an impression which I came to understand. The difference between East and west was just stark and even a 10 year old could see it.

      In any case my understanding is that these troops are just going to be deployed elsewhere in Europe which will involve more expense. I do not see any strategic gain. Just more hissy fit politics.

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  16. ...Germany is now spending only about 1.38 percent of its GDP on defense, compared to the U.S.'s 3.4 percent.

    Month long paid vacation in serious jeopardy, Fritz.

  17. Germany's security issues have very little to do with the threat from the USSR, a state which no longer exists and hasn't existed for a generation. Rather, Germany's security issues stem from refugees who have flooded into the country from the wars in the Middle East and North Africa. There's over a million of them and they make up more than 1% of Germany's population.

    Apparently, among the top 10 countries in the world today, only Germany is a western industrialized country. Over half of Germany's refugees come from Syria. Iraq and Afghanistan make up for most of the rest.

    An increase in Germany's military budget will do nothing to address their most pressing security issue.

  18. Once all the Germans were warlike and mean
    But that couldn't happen again
    We taught them a lesson in 1918
    And they've hardly bothered us since then

    -- Tom Lehrer

  19. The war ended 75 years ago. Bring them all home.

  20. While I typically do not favor executive orders, It would be nice to see Trump sign a few Executive Orders ending our military actions around the world that are not actual declared wars.

    I believe that the last officially declared war was around 70 years ago. We should not be in a constant state of war and we should reduce the number of troops we have stationed around the globe.

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