Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday urged President Trump to reconsider drawing down U.S. troops in Germany, warning that the move would “complicate” the United States’ standing with allies and put national security “at risk.”
“As Republican Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, we write today to express our concern over your administration’s plans to significantly reduce the number of American servicemembers stationed in Germany,” Republicans, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger and committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, wrote in a letter, obtained by Fox News.
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“The U.S. forward presence in Germany serves as a cornerstone of NATO’s deterrent against Russian aggression,” they wrote, noting that the Obama administration oversaw the withdrawal of thousands of troops from Germany in 2012 — and two years later, Russia invaded Ukraine and “illegally” annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
“That drawdown has since been reversed and the U.S. military presence in Europe has increased, in large part thanks to the efforts of your administration,” they continued. “However, the Putin regime has yet to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and its malign activities across the continent have continued unabated.”
“Meanwhile, key frontline NATO allies and partners on the Baltic and Black Seas see their security as intrinsically linked to the support of the United States and the NATO alliance,” they continued, noting that “this is not the time to take any action that might cause the Putin regime to question the credibility of the NATO deterrent or might lead our NATO allies and partners to doubt the U.S. commitment to our collective security.”
The Republicans noted that the U.S. military footprint in Germany also serves the United States’ “strategic interests” by “enabling U.S. power projection beyond Europe and into the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”
The lawmakers added that the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany operated by the U.S. Army “provides critical care to America soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan,” while
Stuttgart, Germany is home to U.S. Africa Command, which they said “has been sounding the alarm regarding the dangers of Russia and China’s growing influence in Africa.”
“We are concerned that a partial withdrawal from Germany could endanger efforts to reverse this trend as well as hinder efforts to counter terrorist organizations that pose a threat to the security of Africa, Europe and the United States,” they wrote.
The lawmakers urged the president to “continue to build and maintain a united coalition of likeminded allies” to “ensure that free and open societies triumph over the likes of Vladimir Putin’s regime and the Chinese Communist Party.”
“The withdrawal of thousands of troops from Germany will only complicate this crucial effort and in turn place U.S. national security at risk,” they wrote.
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The lawmakers noted, as the president has said throughout his administration, that NATO allies should “contribute more to our common defense as burden sharing is critical to alliance cohesion,” while arguing that a U.S. withdrawal would “fail to convince Berlin to spend more, while putting U.S. strategic interests at risk.”
The letter, signed by Reps. McCaul, Kinzinger, Ann Wagner, Joe Wilson, Brian Fitzpatrick and John Curtis, was sent to the White House early Tuesday morning.
The letter comes after the president has suggested reducing the 52,000 soldiers in Germany to 25,000, putting the total number of U.S. troops in the region at about 35,000.
“We’re at 52,000 soldiers in Germany,” Trump said earlier this month. “That’s a tremendous cost to the United States. Germany, as you know, is very delinquent in their payments to NATO.”
“We’re protecting Germany and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense,” Trump said.
Time magazine reported that Germany has yet to pay 2 percent of its GDP on the military, which was agreed upon in 2014. Germany doled out 1.3 percent of its GDP in military spending in 2019, the report said.
A senior administration official said that there have been internal discussions about the withdrawal of U.S. troops since September.
But McCaul told Fox News that while he shares the administration’s frustration that Germany has not met its 2 percent spending commitment, “I am concerned that significantly reducing the U.S. military footprint in Germany may do more harm to U.S. national security interests than it will to incentivize Germany to contribute more to the NATO alliance’s collective security.”
“I look forward to engaging with the Administration on this issue and being briefed on the future of US military posture in Europe and the Indo Pacific,” McCaul told Fox News. “I also look forward to discussing their strategy to ensure US interests, and those of our NATO allies and other partners, are best served in the face of aggression from the Putin regime and the Chinese Communist Party.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.