USA to bring 6,400 troops home from Germany, move 5,400 more

USA to bring 6,400 troops home from Germany, move 5,400 more

A woman takes a picture with USA soldiers, who are part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation multinational battalion on their way from Germany to Orzysz, northeastern Poland, during a military picnic with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Wroclaw, Poland, March 27, 2017. He added that he might rethink the decision to pull troops out of Germany "if they start paying their bills".

If he is elected president in November, Democrat Joe Biden will review the Republican incumbent's decision to withdraw the troops from Germany, a top Biden aide told Reuters earlier this month.

The exact cost of making the changes has also not been determined, with officials saying the price tag will likely be several billion dollars, though they described that as just "rough estimates".

"I'm telling you that this is going to accomplish what the president said with regard to getting us down to a lower number in Europe, and it meets his other objectives I outlined with regards to the strategic piece", Esper said.

Defense officials, however, said Wednesday that the decision on where to house the United States troops leaving Germany was not influenced by whether the new host country was meeting the 2% target.

The Pentagon has been tight-lipped on how it would carry out the Trump administration's plans, which constitute a singular rebuke to one of Washington's closest trading partners and military allies.

But military leaders rejected claims that the decision is linked to Mr. Trump's disputes with Germany and said that it is part of a long-planned effort to reposition American forces across Europe to better deter Russian Federation. U.S. European Command headquarters will move to Belgium.

The premiers of four German states that host US troops have appealed to members of the US Congress to block Trump's withdrawal, which current and former American officials, as well as German officials, have criticised as politically, not strategically, driven.

"It is important to note that in NATO's 71-year history, the size composition and disposition of US forces in Europe has changed many times", Esper said during a Pentagon news briefing. A USA official said the process, which would leave about 24,000 forces in Germany, would likely take years. Trump's announcement on the withdrawal in June blindsided the alliance.

German officials had been pushing for USA troops to remain in Germany, saying it would be regrettable if those forces were to leave.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has voiced support for the plan while also acknowledging it will take "months to plan and years to execute". Shifting forces out of the country had always been rumored and is in line with Pentagon efforts to put more troops in the Indo-Pacific.

Several NATO defense ministers had expressed concern about the decision to pull thousands of troops out of Germany, particularly since Trump has talked repeatedly about bringing troops home and getting the US out of "endless wars".

The current plan does not foresee a permanent troop re-assignment to Poland but, according to USA officials, could result in the "possibility to reassign more troops to Poland and the Baltics" on a rotational basis.

The U.S. has maintained a major presence in Germany since World War II.

That will include the Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which will be replaced in Europe with rotations by Army Stryker brigades. Most of the 35,000 on active duty are in a handful of larger Army and Air Force bases, including Ramstein Air Base, a hub in the region. There also are 2,600 National Guard and Reserve forces and nearly 12,000 civilians there.

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