The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany has come under bipartisan attack in the Senate, amid warnings that will disrupt U.S. alliances.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo picked up insistent questions in the Senate on Thursday, and in doing so, falsely claimed he fought along the East German border when he was stationed. there as an Army Lieutenant in the late 1980s. There were no fighting in Germany during the cold war.
The Pentagon insisted the withdrawal was ordered as part of a strategic positioning of U.S. forces abroad, but Donald Trump made it clear he saw it as a punishment from Germany for not spending enough. in defense.
Pompeo said the state department was part of the reallocation discussion, which involves 6,400 soldiers being brought to the United States and another 5,500 deployed elsewhere in Europe, mostly Belgium and the United States. Italy.
When asked by Pompeo at a Senate foreign affairs committee hearing, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said: “The only country that publicly supported the withdrawal of U.S. troops today from Germany was the United States. -Russia. “
Republican Senator Mitt Romney, reflecting widespread GOP concerns about the move, told Pompeo: “I have heard from the highest levels of the German government that this is considered an insult to Germany, and I cannot imagine in the a time when we have to be attracting our friends and allies so that we can collectively confront China, we have to insult them. “
Pompeo insisted that the withdrawal of troops to the United States did not mean they were “out of the field.”
“These units will participate in rotational activity. They will be operated forward,” he said. “They will not be posted or marked, but make no mistake about it, they will be fully available to make sure we can properly address the challenges we have from the global powers.”
His remarks seemed to reflect the defense department’s assurance that troops brought back to the United States would be available to serve temporary tours in the Baltic states, Poland or the US Sea region. Black.
When pressed by Shaheen about the impact of the withdrawal on the relationship with Berlin, Pompeo did not respond directly, but said: “This is personal to me. I fought on the East German border when I was a young soldier. I was posted there. “
Pompeo served as a lieutenant in the tank regiment in West Germany from 1986 to 1991, while the east-west border was entirely peaceful. He did not take part in any fighting during his military career.
Shaheen reminded me that his former unit was one of those remembered in the United States. On Thursday, Foreign Policy quoted defense department documents, where troops in Germany were informed that the redeployment “is likely to take months to plan and years to execute.”
Trump said he ordered the move because Germany was not spending enough on its own defense and U.S. taxpayers were being taken “for suckers.”
However, Germany has recently increased its spending, saying it is sure to reach the 2% of GDP target for defense spending set by Nato for 2024.
Belgium and Italy, where many American troops have to be redeployed, spend less than Germany as a share of national revenue.
Diplomats and former officials have suggested that Trump’s decision may have been driven by personal animus toward Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Fox News reported in June that the withdrawal was the idea of German Ambassador Richard Grenell in retaliation for Angela Merkel’s decision not to attend a G7 Summit at Camp David in the midst of the pandemic.