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Senators move to block Trump’s proposal to pull thousands of troops out of Germany

President Donald Trump speaks to troops at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in December 2018. A bipartisan group of senators introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, to block Trump's plan to cut the number of U.S.troops in Germany.

BRIAN FERGUSON/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 30, 2020

STUTTGART, Germany — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced an amendment to next year’s national defense bill that would prevent President Donald Trump from withdrawing large numbers of troops from Germany.

“The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany would be a gift to Russia, and that’s the last thing we should be doing,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said in a statement issued Monday, when the legislation was introduced.

“In addition to undermining our NATO alliance, a withdrawal would present serious logistical challenges and prevent our military from performing routine … readiness exercises,” he said.

Members of both parties have resisted the plan announced by Trump in early June to pull some 9,500 troops out of Germany, which would reduce the American military presence there by about a third. Most of the service members would head back to the U.S., while others could be repositioned in Poland and other locations in Europe, Trump has said.

The 34,000 U.S. troops in Germany play a key role in reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank and supporting operations in Africa and the Middle East, advocates in favor of maintaining current force levels have said.

“The United States has always been more secure at home thanks to our allies abroad … In times of domestic and international turmoil, our alliances keep us safer, healthier, and more prosperous. A hasty arbitrary withdrawal only emboldens our adversaries,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in the statement.

The proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would limit the funds available to reduce the number of active-duty troops in Germany.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper would be required to submit a report to Congress that certifies how a reduction would serve U.S. national security interests while not undermining NATO, security in Europe and the military’s ability to respond in a crisis.

The Pentagon would also need to prove that operations in Central and Africa Commands would not be hindered, report to Congress on the costs associated with any large-scale redeployment of forces, and determine if withdrawing thousands of troops from Germany would have a negative effect on military families who are in the country with them.

“At a time when the U.S. and our European allies must continue to stand hand in hand in deterring malign influences, it is in our national security interest, as well as in the interest of our allies and partners, to continue our presence in Germany,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in the statement.

Other co-sponsors of the amendment were Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Democratic senators Tim Kaine of Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver

 

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