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House Republicans urge Trump to keep US troops in Germany

A U.S. soldier with 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, guides a vehicle off of a railhead at Katterbach Army Airfield, Germany, June 22, 2020.

CHARLES ROSEMOND/U.S. ARMY

By DANIEL FLATLEY | Bloomberg | Published: June 23, 2020

Six Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are urging President Donald Trump to reconsider his plan to cut the number of U.S. troops in Germany, arguing that the move would harm national security and weaken the deterrent to Russia and China.

In a letter to the president, the lawmakers said Russian troops invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula after President Barack Obama withdrew some U.S. troops from Germany in 2012. They warned Trump against taking any action that would give Russia reason to question the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"The U.S. forward presence in Germany serves as a cornerstone of NATO's deterrent against Russian aggression," said the lawmakers, led by Michael McCaul, the committee's top Republican, and Representative Adam Kinzinger. "This is not the time to take any action that might cause the Putin regime to question the credibility of the NATO deterrent or might lead our NATO allies and partners to doubt the U.S. commitment to our collective security."

Trump announced the planned withdrawal earlier this month. He said at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday that Germany doesn't spend enough on defense and supports the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia.

"I said, let's get it down from 50,000 to 25,000 because they're delinquent," Trump said. "They haven't been paying what they're supposed to be paying."

The GOP lawmakers wrote to Trump that the U.S. presence in Germany serves as a hub for operations in the Middle East and Africa and that an Army hospital there treats American troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. They said the U.S. troops serve as a deterrent to China and Russia and expressed dismay that U.S. allies weren't consulted about the potential withdrawal.

While the lawmakers commended Trump for trying to get NATO allies to spend more on defense, they said withdrawing troops from Germany would harm the effort.

"We fear this partial U.S. withdrawal from Germany will fail to convince Berlin to spend more, while putting U.S. strategic interests at risk," they wrote. "The United States should continue to lead by example and remain fully committed to the NATO alliance, which has successfully deterred the outbreak of another costly world war on the continent since its formation."

In addition to McCaul and Kinzinger, the other signatories to the letter are Rep. Ann Wagner, Joe Wilson, Brian Fitzpatrick and John Curtis.

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