President Donald Trump on Monday said he wanted to lower the number of U.S. troops in Germany to 25,000 in response to what he characterized as German delinquency on military spending.
The reduction in troop numbers, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is deeply unpopular among Republican lawmakers and some national security experts.
“We’re at 52,000 soldiers in Germany, that’s a tremendous amount of soldiers, that’s a tremendous cost to the United States,” Trump said. “Germany, as you know, is very delinquent in their payments to NATO.”
Roughly 35,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Germany, where force levels are allowed to go as high as 52,000. Trump noted that Germany was not devoting 2 percent of its gross domestic product to defense and criticized its trade relationship with the U.S. through the European Union.
“They are delinquent of billions of dollars, this is for years delinquent,” Trump said. “So we are putting the number down to 25,000 soldiers.”
Contrary to Trump's comments, Germany does not owe that money to NATO. In 2014, European countries set a goal of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024. In 2019, Germany hit 1.3 percent in defense spending, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Last week, 22 House Republicans led by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) argued against Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Germany and claimed the move would undermine the NATO alliance. At the time, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Armed Services chair, said reducing U.S. forces in Germany was such a bad idea that he could not believe Trump would order it.