German officials immediately reversed the plan. Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement to POLITICO that the move would weaken NATO’s alliance and reduce the effectiveness of the US military against Russia and the Middle East.
“I take the view: Reducing the number of US troops is not in the interests of German or NATO security – and has no geopolitical significance for the United States,” Peter Beyer, the German government’s coordinator for transatlantic relations, said on Twitter. “We need more cooperation to manage the future.”
U.S. lawmakers on both sides criticized the move in June after initial reports emerged. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Quickly condemned the move on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Our forces in Europe have been declining for good reasons over the years. But we have always made adjustments to our troops in consultation with Germany and NATO. Trump is doing it out of grief. Probably just embarrassing Germany,”; he said. “No plan. No consultation. That’s a really bad idea. “
According to the plan, the commander of the EUCOM mission, General Tod Wolters, plans to move the headquarters of the European command of the USA and the command of special operations of the European Command from Germany to Belgium. In the future, the headquarters of the US command and the US Special Operations Command for Africa could also be moved from Germany to a new location.
Esper and other top officials argued that the new approach to deploying a rotating force, unlike troops permanently stationed abroad, would increase deterrence to Russia, improve deployed forces and ensure a more flexible “permanent” presence, especially in the Black Sea and southeastern NATO.
“Our EUCOM strategy in the US requires a constant increase in speed in our efforts and ever-improving posture,” said Wolters. “This arrangement allows us to take a favorable stand against Russia, assist NATO, strengthen the alliance, improve Minister Esper’s strategic flexibility and increase EUCOM’s operational flexibility.”
Many of the 6,400 troops who will return to the United States will begin rotating operations. 4,500 members of the second cavalry in Germany will return to the United States when more Stryker units begin to rotate in the Black Sea region. Of the 5,600 troops in Germany deployed elsewhere in Europe, about 2,000 will go to Belgium to work at headquarters. Another 2,500 airlines currently planning to deploy to Germany from the UK will remain in the UK. A fighter squadron and elements of the fighter wing will be sent to Italy.
When Warsaw signs a defense cooperation agreement and a burden-sharing agreement, the United States will also turn its main military unit to Poland. In the future, there may be further opportunities to transfer forces to Poland and the Baltics.
There are currently no plans to move any of the troops to the Indo-Pacific region, Esper said, despite the launch of national security adviser Robert O’Brien in June, who took advantage of the opportunity.
The move should nevertheless “send a clear, unmistakable message to our competitors,” said Deputy Chief Executive Officer General John Hyten. “We hope that Russia and China will engage in more productive and cooperative behavior in the future, but we are using our forces to deter aggression and prevent its malignant impact.”
Hans Joachim Von Der Burchard and Max Cohen contributed to this report.