US: Pentagon announces 11,900 troops to be moved from Germany

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The United States has said it expects to move its headquarters out of Stuttgart, Germany to Belgium, as it announced broader plans to shift 12,000 troops out of Germany on orders from President Donald Trump.

Of the 34,500 US military personnel in Germany, some 6,400 will be sent home while nearly 5,600 others will be moved to other NATO countries, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Esper said a key aim of the rotation is to reinforce NATO’s southeastern flank near the Black Sea, Esper said.

Some military personnel could also go to Poland and the Baltic states if Warsaw follows through on an agreement already sketched out by the two sides, Esper said.

The decision fulfils Trump’s announced desire to withdraw troops from Germany, at least in part due to his charges that they do not spend enough on defence.

Esper said he would like some moves will start within a matter of weeks, but there are still consultations ahead.

“It’ll be a service responsibility to determine where they should go to enhance their readiness to make sure we have adequate housing and childcare and hospital care and all that for families,” Esper said.

US officials said that the moves would likely send air and ground forces to countries that already have an American troop presence. The plan leaves just under 25,000 troops in Germany.

President Trump said the country had not paid its share of NATO defence costs.

“Germany is delinquent; they’re at one percent, not two percent,” he told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday. “They’ve taken advantage of us for many years.”

There has been pushback against the move within the US from the opposition Democrats as well as high-profile members of Trump’s own party.

Esper said the cost of the moves had not yet been calculated. “Clearly, the cost right now are estimates. It’ll take several billion dollars, I’d say single digits, but then that’ll be spread out over time.”

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