Shortly before the planned European travel of US President Donald Trump, the US tightened their threats with a partial withdrawal of their troops from Germany.
“It’s really offensive to expect the US taxpayer to continue to pay more than 50,000 Americans in Germany, but the Germans use their trade surplus for domestic purposes,” said US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.
In the coalition, the statement triggered split reactions. SPD fraction manager Carsten Schneider spoke of a “Feldherrenpose” of the ambassador. “Germany can not be blackmailed,” he said. The Union, however, showed an understanding for the US anger. The left greeted Grenell’s advance and demanded a quick withdrawal.
US President Donald Trump, however, dodged the question of an impending partial withdrawal from Germany on Friday. Asked about relocating soldiers to Poland, Trump said Poland is a close friend of the United States. In addition, Warsaw offered to build at its own expense a base for the US troops. “They offered to pay for our troops and many other things, and so it should be,” he said in the White House. This is something quite different from the “stupid agreements” with other countries that only “exploited” the US.
Trump had brought a transfer from Germany to Poland in June during a visit by the Polish President Andrzej Duda in Washington into play. Before his visit to Poland at the end of August, the announcement could become more concrete. Georgette Mosbacher, the US Ambassador to Poland, said on Wednesday: “Poland fulfills its obligation to pay two percent of GDP against NATO, which Germany does not do. We would like US troops to come to Poland in Germany.”
Grenell agreed. “President Trump is right and Georgette Mosbacher is right,” he said. “Numerous presidents have asked Europe’s largest economy to pay for their own defense, a plea that has dragged on for many years and many governments.” Now you have reached the point at which the Americans and the US President would have to respond.
Germany is the country where by far the most US troops are stationed in Europe. And after Japan, it is the second largest foreign base of the US armed forces ever. The command centers for the US troops in Europe and Africa are in Stuttgart, the most important air force base of the United States in the Rhineland-Palatinate Ramstein and one of the largest military training areas in Europe in Grafenwöhr.
A total of 35,000 US soldiers are in Germany. In addition, 17,000 American and 12,000 German civilians are employed by the US troops. Tens of thousands more jobs depend on American forces.
Rumors of a troop reduction from annoyance over German military spending have been around for some time. But they had been denied at first. Grenell even announced an increase of 1,500 troops in September. Meanwhile, the sheet seems to have turned. Currently, the transfer of 1000 to 2000 soldiers is under discussion.