PICTURED: The grand scale of Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany captured from helicopter.
President Trump’s administration announced on June 5th that 9,500 troops would be removed from Germany after years of haranguing their ally over NATO spending. This announcement, according to German news reports, came as a complete surprise to the nation. It would leave 25,000 troops in the country representing a new maximum number, with some moving to Poland and others returning home.
Mixed reactions followed with members of the German left-wing saying it should be celebrated as a chance to break more completely from their tumultuous ally, while more right wing members of the German legislature feel it’s placing the country at risk.
“For us Europeans, this is one more wake-up call to take our destiny with regard to security policy more decisively into our own hands,” Johann Wadephul, deputy leader of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU-led caucus group, noted in an email statement
State-side, defense and military cabinet members including National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Sec. of Defense Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Miley, were all on board with the plan, with a spokesperson from the National Sec. Council noting that it is only part of Trump’s continual reassessment of military posture, and that Trump is “committed to working with our strong ally Germany to ensure our mutual defense”.
On the other side of the isle, representative Eliot L. Engel (D – NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee mocked and otherwise disapproved of the surprise treatment of one of America’s closest allies.
“Vladimir Putin must be delighted that the American president is gutting our own deterrent against Russian aggression in Europe,” the chairman noted in a press statement.
“And the President’s insulting dismissal of one of our most important relationships because of a personal vendetta confirms that he lacks moral leadership, respect for our allies, and understanding of our national security interests”.
A drawdown or a buildup
Germany is no longer the boundary line behind which lies Russian power – there are several NATO member-states between the Russian Federation and Germany. Today the country is primarily used as a staging ground for invasions into the Middle-East. One of those countries is Poland, and how many of the 9,500 troops will be sent there remains to be seen.
Poland by contrast have already said the U.S. troops would be welcomed in the country, a move that Russian officials have warned for years will upset security on the continent. Mateusz Morawiecki the country’s prime minister said in a radio interview according to the Guardian that he considers the U.S. her primary security guarantor in NATO.
“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 part of Donald Trump’s “America First” policy package was a strengthening of relations with Russia, but throughout the two years when the 45th President of the United States was under investigation by the Office of the Special Council for election fraud and treason and ever since, his stance on Russia has notably hardened.
First and foremost part of this hardening has been his decision to withdraw from or allow the expiration of, several key arms reduction/mutual understanding treaties like the INF Treaty, which banned medium range missiles, and Open Skies which allowed for free and fair reconnaissance flights over both countries.
Germany, as Washington’s NATO ally, is a strategic location for the overall NATO nuclear deterrent, and when German lawmakers called for a removal of U.S. nuclear missiles in May, the U.S. Ambassador accused them of undermining the famous Cold War alliance and its nuclear deterrent strategy.
Dietmar Bartsch, head of the German left-wing party suggested the 9,500 troops should be used as a prelude in negotiations to remove all the rest of them as well, adding that the departing troops “should take the American atomic bombs with them at the same time”.
Whether a withdrawal of troops or nuclear weapons would lead to better security on the continent would be difficult to suggest, but the idea behind Open Skies and INF was that fewer weapons and troops as well as a thinner fog of war would prevent future conflict.