Four months ago President Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Germany. Actually the decision should be implemented as soon as possible. However, shortly before the US presidential election nothing has happened yet.
The planned withdrawal of about one third of the US soldiers from Germany has not yet begun, even more than four months after the announcement by US President Donald Trump. The command center for the U.S. forces in Europe (Eucom) in Stuttgart announced that the preparations still need time. “Planning is taking place at the highest levels and takes into account numerous considerations. This will take some time,” the written reply said. The soldiers would be kept informed about the planning. “At this point, however, we have no further details to offer and cannot speculate about schedules.”
The German government’s coordinator for transatlantic relations, Peter Beyer (CDU), also confirmed that the march has not yet begun. “To my knowledge, the U.S. Army in Germany has not yet received any concrete orders regarding the detailed implementation of the troop reduction,” he said.
Originally it was expected that at least the first soldiers would be withdrawn before the U.S. presidential election on November 3. Trump had announced the withdrawal of a large part of the approximately 36,000 U.S. soldiers in Germany on June 15 and justified it with what he considered to be Germany’s too low defense spending.
Plans should be implemented “as quickly as possible
Six weeks later, Trump’s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper presented the details of the troop withdrawal, making it clear that the plans should be implemented “as quickly as possible. The first soldiers could leave the country “within weeks. This has now turned into months.
A total of about 12,000 of the 36,000 soldiers stationed in Germany are to be withdrawn, i.e. one third. A good half is to be recalled to the USA, 5600 are to be transferred to other NATO countries. Three locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate are particularly hard hit:
Stuttgart: The two command centers for U.S. troops in Europe and Africa are to be relocated from the capital of Baden-Württemberg to Mons in Belgium.
Vilseck: 4500 soldiers are to be brought home to the USA from the Bavarian location at the huge Grafenwöhr military training area in the Upper Palatinate.
Spangdahlem: A squadron of about 20 F16 fighter jets, including crew, mechanics and support staff, is to be transferred from the airbase in the Eifel region of Rhineland-Palatinate to Italy.
Federal government hardly involved in the planning from the very beginning
In Berlin, too, it had been firmly expected that the first steps in the withdrawal of troops would be taken before the elections. However, the federal government was hardly included in the planning from the very beginning by the U.S. allies. In response to a parliamentary question from left-wing Member of Parliament Alexander Neu, whether it had knowledge of troop transfers that had already taken place or were planned in the coming months, it answered last week only with the brief sentence: “The federal government has no such knowledge.
Neu reinterpreted this as evidence of the poor state of German-American relations: “If this is indeed the case, it would speak volumes about the strained German-American relations.
But even if there were already a rough or concrete timetable for the first steps of withdrawal, it could be thrown over again depending on the outcome of the election. This is what Berlin is hoping for in case Trump loses the election. “I definitely see a chance with a President Biden that this matter will be revised,” says deputy CDU/CSU faction leader Johann Wadephul.
Transatlantic coordinator Beyer is not so optimistic: “I am convinced that the issue will remain with us even if Joe Biden wins the election,” he says. “Biden would not stop the reduction of troops altogether.