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The decision by American President Donald Trump to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany to punish what he believes is debtor Berlin is an unrivaled affront. The deduction is unlikely to be implemented as it has now been announced. The logic is limping, after all, Belgium and Italy spend a smaller share of the gross domestic product on defense than Germany.

Around half of the 12,000 soldiers affected are expected to return to the United States. Pentagon-internal studies have shown several times that the permanent deployment in Europe is more operational than the frequent relocation of the brigades. The move of the EUCOM headquarters to Mons makes sense. AFRICOM could in principle also be located in the USA. The transfer of the F-16 unit and the two Stryker battalions to northern Italy would only make military sense if the next conflict in the Black Sea region (including Ukraine) is expected. The strengthening of Poland and the Baltic region, however, is difficult. Ultimately, Washington shoots itself in the knee.

Influential Republicans see it that way. So it will be difficult to get the troop transfer approved. The president has a lot of freedom of choice regarding the disposition of troops. Ultimately, long-term deployment decisions - about their budget financing - will be confirmed in Congress or not. The Democratic candidate for the 2020 US presidential election, Joe Biden, on the other hand, stands by the old alliance partnerships. His foreign and security policy advisors are widely known and also stand by the “old world order”. It is worth sitting out here, both at the political and the working level.

Kommentar des ES&T-Korrespondenten in den USA: Truppenabzug aus Deutschland kommt so nicht

It is hoped that the damage on a personal level - over time - can be alleviated. The decades of fraternization in the locations could end quickly if communities feel betrayed by the new policy.

Sidney E. Dean