The Pentagon on Tuesday said it will send an additional 500 U.S. troops to Germany in the coming months, marking a stark reversal of former President Trump’s ill-fated push to move thousands of forces out of the country.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the shift after meeting with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbaue, who hailed the plan as a “strong signal” of America’s commitment to its European ally.
The 500 troops will join the roughly 35,000 American personnel now in Germany. They are expected to arrive by the fall.
President Biden in February halted Mr. Trump’s controversial plan to pull 12,000 U.S. forces out of Germany. But Tuesday’s announcement goes a step further by increasing America’s military presence in the country.
“These forces will strengthen deterrence and defense in Europe. They will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict, and, if necessary, fight and win,” Mr. Austin said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. “This move will also create more space, more cyber, and more electronic warfare capabilities in Europe.”
The U.S. military presence in Europe is a key deterrent against Russia. The continent also is a key logistical hub for the Pentagon and is the home of U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and other arms of the military.
Mr. Trump, however, sought to redefine America’s position on the continent as part of his broader push to get NATO allies to spend more money on defense. Germany was one of Mr. Trump’s most frequent targets, and he routinely bashed the country for not spending at least 2% on defense, a target German officials have said they are working to meet.
Against that backdrop, Mr. Trump and Pentagon officials last July announced plans to pull about 12,000 troops from Germany. Some of those forces would’ve returned home while others would have been redeployed to other locations in Europe.
But the plan was never truly enacted. Mr. Biden and Mr. Austin in January implemented a review of U.S. troop deployments abroad, and in early February Mr. Biden officially stopped all planning for the drawdown in Germany.
Tuesday’s announcement signals that the drawdown is permanently dead. Mr. Austin said that the U.S. has “ceased planning” for troop reductions.