Trump has consistently complained that almost all European NATO countries have inadequate military budgets, and that he no longer wants the U.S. to play the world’s policeman. Europeans are increasingly aware that they can no longer rely on US military leadership to resolve conflicts in their neighborhood, such as the Balkans, the Middle East or Africa. They must themselves become capable of action.

The US is moving forward with President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, a decision that has attracted bipartisan congressional opposition and roiled key allies who see the move as a blow to NATO. The reduction of troops is to meet Trump's mandated cap of 24,000 US forces in German (down from roughly 36,000). Of the troops leaving Germany some 5,400 will be "staying in Europe. The remaining 6,400 forces and their families will be returned to the US and will in time redeploy to Europe.

The United States is intent on limiting American troops in Germany to 25,000, or a  reduction of 12,000 or more than one quarter, from current levels.

Germany spent some 1.36 percent of its gross domestic product on its military in 2019, a number that has grown but is still significantly short of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s stated target of 2 percent. Because of its large economy, Germany in absolute terms now spends more on its military than other European powers. Germany represents higher military spending than France, for example, which has a smaller economy.

Trump’s decision is, of course, driven by political considerations, including his displeasure with Germany and the EU’s approach to China, Iran, Russia, climate change and other important matters, as well as his pre-election campaign promise to bring home more American troops.

This decision will have potentially disastrous political and security consequences to the US and NATO. Even if both the future of President Trump and his decision to sharply cut the American contingent in Germany are uncertain, the possible consequences are clearly alarming and the political damage to NATO and the transatlantic link has already been done.

Add new comment