June 13 (UPI) — A plan to remove one-third of U.S soldiers currently stationed in Germany was confirmed this week by the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Germany.
“American taxpayers no longer feel like paying too much for the defense of other countries,” said Ambassador Richard Grenell in an interview on Thursday.
“There will still be 25,000 soldiers in Germany, that’s no small number,” Grenell said. “No one should be surprised that [President] Donald Trump is pulling troops and bringing them home. There has been a lot of discussion.”
He added that plans include U.S. troop reductions in Japan and South Korea.
Earlier this month Grenell formally resigned as ambassador to join Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
There are more than 34,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Germany, including 20,000 from the Army and 13,000 from the Air Force, a Pentagon deployment report indicated.
Under the troop revision, about 9,500 troops will be removed from Germany, where more U.S. troops are stationed than in any other European country. The military infrastructure located in Stuttgart is a hub for missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
After the White House earlier this week announced plans for the personnel reduction, 22 Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee announced their disapproval in a letter to Trump.
“We strongly believe that NATO allies, such as Germany, should do more to contribute to our joint defense efforts. At the same time, we also know that the forward stationing of American troops since the end of World War II has helped to prevent another world war and, most importantly, has helped make America safer,” the letter said in part.
“In Europe, the threats posed by Russia have not lessened, and we believe that signs of a weakened U.S. commitment to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism,” the members of Congress wrote. “In addition, the overall limit on troops would prevent us from conducting the exercises that are necessary for the training and readiness of our forces and those of our allies.”
Although troop reductions in Germany were discussed in the past, the report from the White House came as a surprise.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a statement that “withdrawing U.S. forces from Germany and imposing an arbitrary cap on the number of U.S.forces that can be present there would be a serious error and would damage our national security.”
“Our presence abroad is critical to deterring these adversaries, bolstering alliances, maintaining peace through strength, and preserving American leadership,” Cheney said. “Withdrawing our forces and abandoning our allies would have grave consequences, emboldening our adversaries and making war more, not less, likely.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry had a different view. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said her ministry welcomed the cut in personnel.
“On our part, we would welcome any of Washington’s moves for really cutting its military presence in Europe,” Zakharova said.
“Such steps would undoubtedly contribute to reducing the confrontational potential and the military-political tension in the Euro-Atlantic region,” Zakharova said. “Incidentally, Moscow, let me remind you, has always said that maintaining the considerable numerical strength of the U.S. troops in Germany after its unification in 1990 is a vestige of the cold war period.”