Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw more than a third of the US troops stationed in Germany have been criticised in the country by conservatives and welcomed by leftwing politicians.
The US president has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to reduce the number of troops by 9,500 from the 34,500 permanently assigned in Germany as part of a long-standing arrangement with Washington’s Nato ally.
Johann Wadephul, the deputy chair of the parliamentary group of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), described the withdrawal as a wake-up call. “The plans show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary task of leadership, to bind coalition partners into decision-making processes,” he said.
“Everyone profits from the alliance sticking together, only Russia and China profit from discord. Washington should pay more attention to that.”
The leader of the parliamentary group of the leftwing party Die Linke welcomed the development. “The federal government should accept it with gratitude and promptly start preparing the complete withdrawal of US soldiers with the Trump administration,” said Dietmar Bartsch.
“It would have the collateral benefit of saving taxpayers billions, because there would not longer be a need to acquire new fighter jets.”
Norbert Röttgen, one of the CDU politicians in the running to succeed Merkel as chancellor when she steps down next year, criticised the plans. “Such a withdrawal would be regrettable from every point of view,” the chair of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee told the Funke Mediengruppe network of newspapers. “I cannot see a rational ground for such a withdrawal.”
Poland hopes to receive more US troops as a consequence, the country’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said on Saturday. Poland has long regarded the US as the primary guarantor of its security within Nato.
“I really hope that as a result of the many talks we’ve had and by having shown what a solid Nato partner we are, some of the troops currently stationed in Germany that are being pulled out by the US will indeed end up in Poland,” he told the RMF radio station.
“The real danger lurks across the eastern border, so moving US troops to Nato’s eastern flank will be a security boost to all of Europe,” he said, adding that “talks are ongoing”.
As Russia has moved to seize control of territory in Georgia and Ukraine over the last decade, Poland has been campaigning for a permanent US troop presence. Current rotations in the country number 5,500 personnel.
White House and Pentagon officials declined to confirm or deny the story, which comes amid tensions between the Trump administration and European allies over longstanding cooperation agreements. Trump has argued that Germany does not spend enough on its own defence.