Trump was reportedly surprised by the number of US troops stationed in Germany and expressed interest in pulling some of them out

  • The US Defence Department is reportedly analysing the cost-to-benefit ratio of a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of US troops in Germany.
  • Trump, who has had a tenuous relationship with the German chancellor Angela Merkel, was said to have been surprised by the number of US troops stationed there.
  • Some US officials were said to have tried to dissuade Trump from taking action.
  • European officials were reportedly alarmed at the possibility of US troop movements – some of whom wondered whether Trump might use it as a negotiation tactic.
  • The National Security Council has downplayed the report.

The US Defence Department is reportedly analysing whether or not it is feasible to conduct a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of US troops in Germany, according to a Washington Post report published on Friday.

President Donald Trump reportedly mulled the option after meeting with military aides earlier this year, US officials said in the report. Trump, who has had a tenuous relationship with the German chancellor Angela Merkel, was said to have been surprised by the number of US troops stationed in the region.

Some US officials were said to have tried to dissuade Trump from taking action.

Around 35,000 active-duty troops were stationed in Germany last year. US troop levels peaked at 274,119 in 1962, 17 years after World War II.

In addition to the US presence in Germany, Trump was reportedly vexed by his belief that other NATO countries were not contributing enough to the organisation. Trump has frequently vented his frustration and criticised NATO members for failing to abide by the 2%-of-GDP defence-spending level that members agreed to during the alliance’s inception.

US Army soldiers troops Germany training exercise(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Frye)Members of Bull Troop, 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry, prepare to engage a multinational force while taking part in a quick-deployment exercise during Allied Spirit VI at Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, March 25, 2017.

European officials were reportedly alarmed at the possibiity of US troop movements – some of whom wondered whether Trump might use it as a negotiation tactic.

The National Security Council downplayed the significance and said it had not asked for a formal analysis on repositioning troops: “The Pentagon continuously evaluates US troop deployments,” a statement from the NSC said, according to The Post. The statement added that the “analysis exercises” were “not out of the norm.”

“The Pentagon regularly reviews force posture and performs cost-benefit analyses,” Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said in a statement to The Post. “This is nothing new. Germany is host to the largest US force presence in Europe – we remain deeply rooted in the common values and strong relationships between our countries. We remain fully committed to our NATO ally and the NATO alliance.”

But despite repeated denials of a rift between US and NATO countries, Trump has suggested withdrawing from the 29-member alliance on multiple occasions.

“My statement on NATO being obsolete and disproportionately too expensive (and unfair) for the U.S. are now, finally, receiving plaudits,” Trumps said during his 2016 presidential campaign on Twitter.

Trump has similarly suggested pulling US troops out of South Korea. Citing several people familiar with the discussions, The New York Times reported in May that he had ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for a drawdown.

“We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military,” Trump said in a speech March. “We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea,” Trump added. “Let’s see what happens.”

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