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Donald Trump considers treason: withdrawal of US troops from Germany, leaving Europe unprotected from Soviet invasion

2018-06-30

From the Washington Post, July 29, 2018:

The Pentagon is analyzing the cost and impact of a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of American troops stationed in Germany, amid growing tensions between President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to people familiar with the work.

The effort follows Trump’s expression of interest in removing the troops, made during a meeting earlier this year with White House and military aides, U.S. officials said. Trump was said to have been taken aback by the size of the U.S. presence, which includes about 35,000 active-duty troops, and complained that other countries were not contributing fairly to joint security or paying enough to NATO.
Word of the assessment has alarmed European officials, who are scrambling to determine whether Trump actually intends to reposition U.S. forces or whether it is merely a negotiating tactic ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, where Trump is again likely to criticize U.S. allies for what he deems insufficient defense spending.

European officials are hoping to emphasize Western unity at the NATO summit July 11 and 12. But Trump remains displeased that many NATO countries fail to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, a target alliance members agreed to reach by 2024. The United States spends about 3.58 percent of its GDP on defense.
Although several U.S. administrations have called on Europe to spend more, Trump is particularly focused on the balance sheet. He has been especially critical of Merkel, on defense and a range of other issues.

Last week, White House frustration was on display in a contentious meeting in Washington between Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Von der Leyen said German budget projections called for increasing defense spending to 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP by 2024. The White House was disappointed with Germany’s efforts, according to officials.

The U.S. military had been drawing down its presence in Europe for years before Russia’s annexation of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine in early 2014 prompted a change in posture, with Washington seeking to deter Moscow from further encroachments. U.S. and allied forces began rotating brigades through the eastern members, and the U.S. started returning equipment such as tanks and helicopters to the theater.

From “the Hill”:

The Department of Defense is reportedly analyzing the ongoing costs of keeping thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Germany as President Trump considers reducing forces in the region.
The Washington Post reports that Pentagon officials stressed that the audit is limited to internal research so far and does not involve any members of the military’s top brass.
The analysis comes after Trump reportedly was taken aback during a White House meeting earlier this year upon learning of the size – 35,000 troops – of the U.S. deployment in the country.
The president has frequently complained that NATO countries, including Germany, do not contribute their fair share of defense spending to the alliance.

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