Will the US troop withdrawal from Germany stop?

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Will the US troop withdrawal from Germany be stopped? Congress grabs Trump

The US Congress wants to block the massive withdrawal of American soldiers from Germany planned by incumbent President Donald Trump for the time being. This emerges from the draft law package for the US defense budget, which Democrats and Republicans agreed in both chambers in Congress on Thursday (local time).

There it says that the US Secretary of Defense must state in a report to Congress whether such a withdrawal would be in the national interest of the US. The number of US soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic may fall below the limit of 34,500 at the earliest 120 days afterwards.

An F-16 fighter jet takes off in Spangdahlem, Germany. Bild: AP

Members of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Senate, which is dominated by Trump’s Republicans, agreed on Thursday on the 4,500-page defense budget package for the coming year. After being passed by the two houses of Congress in Congress, Trump must sign the bill for it to come into effect.

Trump announced a partial withdrawal of US soldiers from Germany in June and justified the step with what he saw as Germany’s defense spending that was too low. A total of around 12,000 soldiers were to be withdrawn. Trump’s plans met with criticism from the military, but also from his own republican party. In Congress, both Democrats and Trump’s Republicans announced opposition to the plans.

Regarding the planned withdrawal from Germany, the draft says that the Congress continues to value Germany as a strong NATO partner. The presence of the “approximately 34,500 members of the US armed forces stationed in Germany” serves as an important deterrent to Russia’s expansionist efforts in Europe. The US troops in Germany are also of central importance in supporting US operations in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.

A few weeks after Trump’s announcement, the now dismissed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper made it clear that the plans should be implemented “as soon as possible”. A good half of the 12,000 soldiers should be brought back to the USA, 5600 should be relocated to other NATO countries. Three locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate would be particularly hard hit by the plans: Stuttgart, Vilseck and Spangdahlem.

The Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Rhineland-Palatinate. Image: keystone

Trump threatens to veto

Trump has threatened to block the defense budget with a veto – but that has nothing to do with the debate about the withdrawal of US troops from Germany, but with a dispute over the regulation of online platforms. In the summer he had also threatened to veto the legislative package in a dispute over a possible renaming of military bases.

A presidential veto can be overruled with a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and Senate. The defense budget package is one of a series of bills that Congress intends to pass before the end of the year. The defense budget was passed with bipartisan support for 59 consecutive years.

Republican Trump lost the presidential election on November 3rd to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump has so far refused to admit defeat. (sda / dpa)

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