The US has planned to withdraw 11,900 military personnel from Germany, reducing American troops in the European country from some 36,000 to 24,000, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.
Among the US troops that would be withdrawn, about 5,600 will be repositioned to other NATO countries, while the rest will return to the US with some beginning rotational deployment back to Europe, the Pentagon chief told a news briefing on Wednesday.
Some US forces currently stationed in Germany would be redeployed to Belgium and Italy, and others would begin continuous rotation in the Black Sea region, Xinhua news agency reported citing Esper as saying.
“We also plan on rotating forward the lead element of the Army’s newly established V Corps headquarters to Poland, once Warsaw agrees to a Defense Cooperation Agreement and burden sharing details, as previously pledged,” he said.
Esper noted that the Pentagon seeks to implement its plans “as expeditiously as possible”, adding that redeployment could begin within weeks.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that US allies are exploiting the country on defense spending.
Criticizing Berlin’s “delinquency” on military spending, Trump last month ordered the US military to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany.
“Until they pay, we’re removing our soldiers,” he said.
Dozens of House Republicans have voiced opposition to Trump’s decision to reduce the country’s military presence in Germany.
The reposition announcement came as relations between Washington and Berlin have become strained.
The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among other topics.