It’s expected that US President-elect Joe Biden will likely reverse course on the Trump administration’s American troop draw down from Germany, or at least partially.
Over the summer the Pentagon began initiating a White House plan to move 12,000 soldiers out of Germany on a permanent basis, with some actually being sent to Poland and other NATO countries, after the Trump administration slammed Berlin for not shouldering its fair share of NATO defense spending. As Defense Post writes, some officials currently favored to be tapped to lead the Pentagon under a new Biden administration have already signaled the Germany draw down would be among the first policies to fall under scrutiny:
Michele Flournoy — former number three at the Pentagon and a favorite to lead the Defense Department under the new administration — nearly predicted as much during a conference in August.
“If you have a new administration, the first thing they’ll do is a posture review globally,” she said at the Aspen Security Forum when asked about the withdrawals.
“My hope is that this (withdrawal plan) will not be fully executed because I don’t think it’s in the strategic interests of the United States and it’s very damaging to our alliance relationships,” Flournoy said.
There are currently nearly 35,000 American troops in the country. Former defense secretary Mark Esper first announced the plan on July 29, after which President Trump offered his key rationale: “We spend a lot of money on Germany, they take advantage of us on trade and they take advantage on the military, so we’re reducing the force,” he had said at a press briefing.
“They’re there to protect Europe, they’re there to protect Germany, and Germany is supposed to pay for it,” Trump added. “We don’t want to be responsible anymore.”
Kathleen Hicks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has just been named to lead Biden’s Pentagon transition team, was also a prior vocal critic of the troop removal from Germany. She wrote in The Hill in August that it ultimately “benefits our adversaries” – a likely reference to Russia.
She wrote at the time that such a move “comes at the cost of readiness” and “will be expensive,” adding of the stated goals:
But this Pentagon decision does absolutely none of these things. It in fact significantly harms all those stated objectives in both the defense strategy and the national security strategy. This punishes Germany simply because Trump takes issue with the country.
Biden has lately called for a restoration of American leadership in the world and for the US to be at “center stage” of world affairs, which many have taken to mean a return to a more hawkish posture when it comes to troop readiness and response to conflicts and hotspots.