President Donald Trump approved the plan presented to him by the Pentagon to withdraw 9,500 soldiers from Germany as he had ordered, the Defense Department reported in a statement.
“The approved proposal not only complies with the president’s order but will increase deterrence to Russia, strengthen NATO, reassure allies, improve U.S. strategic flexibility and the operational flexibility of the European Command,” he said.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper and Chief of Staff General Mark Milley presented the plan to Trump on Monday and will report to Congress and consult with NATO in the “coming weeks.
In the statement, the Pentagon did not offer details on dates for the withdrawal or where the withdrawn troops would go, although it said that affected personnel and their families would receive information in time.
Trump said last week that he will “probably” move some of the troops he withdraws from Germany to Poland and “other parts of Europe,” after Polish President Andrzej Duda asked him not to remove U.S. soldiers from the Old Continent.
“Poland is one of the few countries that are fulfilling its (defence spending) obligations within the framework of NATO. We have been asked to send troops there, and we will probably move them from Germany to Poland,” Trump said during a press conference with Duda at the White House.
Trump announced the withdrawal of troops initially in mid-June in an effort to pressure Berlin to increase its contribution to NATO.
The United States currently has about 52,000 troops deployed to German bases, of which about 34,500 are active soldiers and the rest are Defense Department civilian employees.
Germany is the country with the most US troops in Europe, followed by Italy, the UK and Spain. These troops have been on German territory since the end of World War II (1939-1945) and, during the Cold War, were considered a containment force against the Soviet Union.