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US threatens to withdraw troops from Germany over NATO spending

Richard Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, delivers remarks during a reception aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) June 15, 2018, in Kiel, Germany, for Kiel Week. Mount Whitney, forward-deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Stumberg/Released)
August 09, 2019

The United States has warned Germany that it may withdraw troops from the nation.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell warned Germany on Friday of the possible troop withdrawal amid criticism that Germany is not spending enough on defense, according to an interview with German news agency DPA.

“It is actually offensive to assume that the US taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany, but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell said.

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher also called out Germany on Thursday in a tweet that said, “Poland meets its 2% of GDP spending obligation towards NATO. Germany does not. We would welcome American troops in Germany to come to Poland.”

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“President Trump is right and Georgette Mosbacher is right,” Grenell said, according to Deutsche Welle.

Grenell also pointed out that “numerous presidents” have requested Germany “pay for its own defense” but those requests went unanswered. He added that it was time for an American president to act.

Trump has been calling on members of NATO to increase their contribution to defense spending, noting that the members have been contributing disproportionately.

NATO members are supposed to spend two percent of their GDP on defense, but Germany is long way off. The nation aspires to reach 1.5 percent in 2024, but its 2023 budget planning only has 1.24 percent of GDP allocated to defense.

An estimated 34,000 U.S. service members are assigned to Germany, along with 17,000 civilian employees, across more than three dozen military bases, Fox News reported Friday.

“Spiegel’s @RolandNelles says Americans don’t care if Germany helps the West or not. He’s now being widely mocked for (once again) making up stories about America,” Grenell tweeted on Wednesday.

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In his tweet, Grenell was addressing Der Spiegel correspondent Roland Nelles who criticized Grenell for stating, “What we want, what the American people want, is a clear commitment by the German people to support the West.”

Nelles had went on to call Grenell’s statement “big drama” and said Germany’s attitude has been “no issue at all.” He added that Americans “should not care much about whether or not Germany participates in the Iran mission,”

“There are 34,000 U.S. troops in Germany protecting Germans and Europeans. I can tell you this: @RolandNelles & @SPIEGELONLINE are wrong. Americans don’t understand why Germany isn’t meeting its NATO obligations & helping the West. And they are growing very annoyed by it,” Grenell tweeted the following day.