The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany is part of a bipartisan attack on the Senate, amid warnings it will disrupt US alliances.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to question the Senate on Thursday, and in doing so falsely claimed to have fought along the East German border when he was stationed there as an army lieutenant in the late 1980s. There was no fighting in Germany during the Cold War.
The Pentagon has insisted the withdrawal was ordered as part of an overall strategic repositioning of US forces abroad, but Donald Trump made it clear that he saw it as a punishment for Germany for not spending enough defense.
Pompeo said the state department had been part of the discussion about the relocation, which includes 6,400 soldiers who were brought to the US and another 5,500 were stationed elsewhere in Europe, mainly Belgium and Italy.
Asking Pompeo at a session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said, “The only country that has publicly supported the withdrawal of American troops from Germany today has been Russia.”
Republican Senator Mitt Romney, reflecting widespread concern in the GOP about the move, told Pompeo: “I have heard from the highest levels of the German government that this is seen by them as an insult to Germany, and I can not imagine it in a “When we have to withdraw from our friends and allies so that we can deal with China collectively, we want to offend them.”
Pompeo insisted that the withdrawal of troops to the US does not mean they were “off the field”.
“These units will take part in the rotation activity. They will be put forward, “he said.” They will not be placed or garrisoned, but make no mistake about it, they will be fully available to ensure that we can properly pursue the challenges we have from global powers. “
His remarks appear to reflect defense department assurances that troops brought back to the US will be available to serve temporary tours in the Baltic states, Poland or the Black Sea region.
When asked by Shaheen about the impact of the withdrawal on relations 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 settled there.”
Pompeo served as a lieutenant colonel in a tank regiment in West Germany from 1986 to 1991, during which time the east-west border was completely peaceful. He did not take part in any war during his military career.
Shaheen reminded him that his former unit was one of those withdrawn in the US Foreign Policy cited defense department documents Thursday in which troops in Germany were informed that the reopening would “take months”. in order to plan and years to be executed “.
Trump has said he ordered the move because Germany was not spending enough on its defense and American taxpayers were being taken “for suckers”.
However, Germany has recently increased its spending and said it is on track to reach the 2% of GDP target for defense spending set by NATO for 2024.
Belgium and Italy, where many American troops will be redefined, spend less than Germany as part of national revenue.
Diplomats and former officials have suggested that Trump’s decision may have been driven by personal animus towards Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Fox News reported in June that the withdrawal was the idea of German Ambassador Richard Grenell as a revenge for Angela Merkel’s decision not to attend a G7 summit at Camp David at the height of the pandemic.