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Germany spent over $1 billion to cover costs linked to US troops

A U.S. soldier takes part in a training event in Vilseck, Germany, on June 3, 2020.

TIMOTHY HAMLIN/U.S. ARMY

By STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS Published: July 7, 2020

The German government has paid more than $1 billion over the past decade to cover costs related to the stationing of U.S. troops in Germany, according to the finance ministry in Berlin.

The ministry provided the figures in reply to a query from opposition Left Party lawmaker Brigitte Freihold. The reply was first reported by German news agency dpa.

The German government paid 982.4 million euros ($1.1 billion) between 2010 and 2019 for the U.S. military presence, according to the finance ministry. Of that, 648.5 million euros was for construction work and 333.9 million euros was for “so-called defense follow-up costs,” Freihold said in a statement. She did not clarify what defense follow-up costs were.

"Money from the German taxpayer is supporting global human rights violations that lead to refugee movements and terror, while underfinanced communities (in Germany) don’t have the means to ensure that schools and hospitals can be maintained,“ Freihold said.

Ramstein Air Base, near Kaiserslautern, was "a hub for global U.S. warfare," where "environmental damage and 'noise terror'" from military aircraft flying overhead are daily occurrences, she said.

Last month, President Donald Trump said that he is ordering a major reduction in troop strength in Germany, from around 34,500 personnel down to 25,000.
Germany wasn’t notified of the move, which came after Trump branded the NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to pay enough for its own defense, by not meeting a goal set in 2014 for members to halt budget cuts and move toward spending at least 2% of gross national product on defense by 2024. Trump has stressed that the German economy benefits from spending by the U.S. troops based there.

According to NATO figures, Germany is spending about 1.38% of GDP on its defense budget. Berlin aims to hit 1.5% by 2024 and insists that this level of spending allows it to meet NATO’s defense planning goals. The U.S. — at around 3.4% of GDP — spends more on defense than all 29 other allies combined.

Stars and Stripes reporters Marcus Kloeckner and Karin Zeitvogel contributed to this article.

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