The U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home from Germany and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe, the Pentagon said Wednesday – as Donald Trump said it was because the country is ‘delinquent’ on defense.
He attacked Germany’s failure to spend more of its budget on its military as the Pentagon outlined a plan to slash the U.S. presence there by a third, a move which will cost ‘single digit billions.’
Trump bluntly said Wednesday morning at the White House: ‘We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent.’
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‘We spend a lot of money on Germany, they take advantage of us on trade and they take advantage on the military, so we’re reducing the force,’ he said as he waited to board Marine One for a campaign trip to Texas.
‘They’re there to protect Europe, they’re there to protect Germany, and Germany is supposed to pay for it.We don’t want to be responsible anymore.’
A number of forces will go to Italy, and a major move would shift U.S. European Command and Special Operations Command Europe from Stuttgart, Germany, to Belgium.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that some moves will begin in months and will leave about 24,000 troops in Germany.
Trump has repeatedly accused Germany of failing to pay bills, which is a misstatement of the issue. NATO nations have pledged to dedicate 2% of their gross domestic product to defense spending by 2024, and Germany is still short of that goal, at about 1.4%.