The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany will benefit not only Russia. Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

After numerous threats, President Trump seems to have made a serious decision to withdraw American troops from Germany. Nine and a half thousand troops are to leave the country. Russia will benefit the most from that – but so will the Eastern European NATO countries.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany will benefit not only Russia. Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Germany for insufficient, in his opinion, military spending and threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from its territory. Now he moves from words to deeds. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump’s security advisor Robert O’Brien signed an order according to which 9.5 thousand American troops should leave Germany by September. They will be transferred to other NATO European countries or returned to the United States. In addition, the maximum number of American soldiers in Germany will be reduced from the current 52,000 to 25,000.

At the same time, some experts, in particular, the former commander of the U.S. troops in Europe Ben Hodges and former commander of the U.S. troops at NATO Ivo Daadler, believe that the second part of this order will have even greater consequences. Germany now has 34,500 U.S. Army soldiers, as well as 17,000 civilians. If the partial withdrawal of the U.S. troops takes place, the new limit of the remaining troops in the country will be exhausted. And then the Americans will no longer be able to temporarily relocate large parts of their forces to Germany, for example, to participate in the exercises, as has happened so far. We will have to close down facilities that are important for the American military presence in Europe, Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East, including a number of headquarters and logistics centers.

Trump also wants to reduce the military presence in Iraq and withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The largest military base of American troops outside the U.S. is Ramstein airfield. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force in Europe and the main logistics center for operations in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa. In addition, it is from there that the flights of unmanned aerial vehicles are managed. The Americans evacuate wounded soldiers from these regions to Landstuhl, the largest military hospital outside the United States. And in Mizau, 15 kilometers from Ramstein, is the largest U.S. arsenal outside the United States.

The United States has invested billions of dollars in retrofitting and modernizing the facilities in Ramstein and Landstuhl. It is impossible to find an adequate replacement for them in the near future. The same can be said about the base in Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, where, in addition to the European headquarters of the U.S. army, representatives of the U.S. special services are also stationed.
Trump, however, also plans to reduce military presence in Iraq and withdraw troops from Afghanistan. At the same time, it may really reach the reduction of military infrastructure in Germany.

Near Stuttgart are the headquarters of the command of the American troops in Europe and Africa, and in Böblingen – the command of the American Navy in Europe and Africa. The Grafenwoehr Range – the most technically advanced in Europe, according to the U.S. Army – plays an important role in the joint exercises of American soldiers stationed in nearby Filsek, as well as parts of other NATO countries. In addition, tank and air force exercises with combat weapons can be conducted there, which is rare in Europe.

 

Which parts can be withdrawn from Germany is not yet clear. The newspaper of the American armed forces Stars and Stripes quoted the representatives of the Pentagon: according to them, concrete plans remain unknown. According to other sources, these plans were agreed with Defense Minister Mark Esper, and since September, the head of the General Staff Mark Milley has been working on their preparation.

According to the magazine Der Spiegel, members of Congress have already been informed about the withdrawal of 5 to 15 thousand soldiers from Germany. And The Wall Street Journal argues that the Pentagon has yet to give its final consent to the implementation of this plan. At the same time, the consent of the National Security Council, contrary to usual practice, is not required to make this decision.

According to The New York Times, Germany must leave F-16 planes and support units. Since the F-16 in Ramstein is responsible for the protection of the military base, it is likely that the redeployment of the 52nd Squadron from Spangdalem (Rhineland-Palatinate), which is located about 5 thousand military and civilian personnel. Withdrawal of American soldiers is possible from the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria. Many of the facilities located there are needed to quickly relocate additional forces to Europe and to organize comparable infrastructure in other countries in case of emergency, if the speed of response of the U.S. and NATO forces is not undermined.

However, the transfer of 9.5 thousand military personnel in just three months, many of whom live in Germany with their families, would be a “big logistical challenge,” noted the editorial staff of Stars and Stripes. In addition, the president has in the past repeatedly announced plans to withdraw troops, in particular from Syria, but has never implemented them. In addition, Trump once again raised the issue of the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea and Japan.

Trump’s plans drew strong criticism within the United States itself. Democrat Senator Jack Reed, who serves as the deputy committee on military affairs, called them “petty and absurd”. According to him, this move would be “a favor to President Vladimir Putin. Senator Eliot Engel, head of the Foreign Policy Committee, announced that Republicans in Congress will work to reverse the decision.

Representatives of the government justify these plans by the fact that Europeans, under Trump’s pressure, are paying more attention to their own security, and therefore the American presence in the Old World can be reduced. However, Eastern European NATO members are unlikely to agree with this assessment.

But they are the ones who can benefit from the withdrawal of American troops from Germany. Thus, Poland hopes to host additional troops from the US. Prime Minister of this country Mateusz Morawiecki said: “It will strengthen the eastern flank of NATO”.

However, it would be problematic to link NATO’s long-term deployment to Poland or the Baltic States to the Founding Agreement between NATO and Russia, which prohibits the alliance from permanently stationing troops on the territory of its new members.

Paul-Anton Kruger, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

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