USA

Trump Confirms Major Withdrawal Of US Troops From Germany

President Donald Trump also said the US is protecting Germany and accused the country of being "delinquent" in its payments to NATO.

US President Donald Trump has confirmed he is withdrawing more than 9,000 US troops from Germany.

It will see the number of American soldiers in the country reduced to 25,000 from around 34,500 in a move critcised by some Republicans.

There are fears the withdrawal could strengthen Russia's position in the region, as well as threatening US national security.

The US already has far fewer troops in Germany than it did during the Cold War, when Germany was the focus of American and NATO efforts to deter an invasion by the former Soviet Union. 

In recent decades, the country has hosted key American military facilities and has provided a transit point for troops deploying to and from the Middle East.

Announcing the cut at the White House on Monday, Mr Trump criticised Germany for failing to pay enough for its own defence, calling the country "delinquent" in its payments to NATO.

"We’re protecting Germany and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense," he said.

The president has long-called for NATO nations to reach the alliance's target of spending 2% of GDP on defence - regularly singling out Germany as a major offender.

Germany says it hopes to hit 2% by 2031 - seven years later than the original NATO goal. 

"Until they pay, we’re removing our soldiers, a number of our soldiers," Mr Trump said.

"When we get down to 25,000 [troops] we’ll see where we’re going," he added.

He also suggested the troop withdrawal was intended to punish the German economy.

"Those are well-paid soldiers," he said.

"They live in Germany. They spend vast amounts of money in Germany. Everywhere around those bases is very prosperous for Germany.

"So Germany takes, and then on top of it they treat us very badly on trade."

The US also has around 17,500 Defense Department civilians based in Germany.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he has discussed the withdrawal with President Trump, and that it remains undecided "how and when" the move will be implemented with more discussions to be had on the matter.

"My message was that the US presence in Europe is good for Europe, but it's also good for North America and the United States," he said.

"The US presence in Europe is not only about protecting Europe, but it's also about projecting US power beyond Europe."

Last week, Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, warned the withdrawal would have "grave consequences" and would make war "more - not less - likely".

The pending withdrawal was first reported last week.

Germany said it had "no confirmation" over the initial reports. 

The US military has five garrisons in Germany and two air bases.

In February, the UK handed over its final military headquarters in Germany - marking the complete withdrawal of 20,000 troops from the country.

Despite the departure of major field and combat units, the UK maintains a training presence there.

Cover image: US personnel at Ramstein Air Base in Germany (Picture: US Department of Defense).