On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the U.S. had stopped planning for U.S. troop cuts from Germany, ordered last summer by then-President Donald Trump, and will instead send an additional 500 U.S. troops to the country.
President Joe Biden’s defense secretary said, “I’m happy to announce that we will be increasing the U.S. force presence in Germany.”
Austin said the 500 additional U.S. troops would be a permanent increase in the U.S. troop presence in Germany. He said the troops will be stationed in Germany’s Wiesbaden area and could arrive there as early as fall.
Last summer, Trump ordered the removal of about 12,000 out of the 35,000 U.S. troops in Germany. Trump ordered the troop cut after criticizing Germany for being delinquent on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) spending obligations. In a June press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump said Poland would be receiving some of the U.S. troops leaving Germany, saying “Poland is one of the few countries that are fulfilling their obligations under NATO.”
The Trump-era troop cut had not yet gone into when Biden took office and, the Associated Press reported, Austin ordered a pause on the troop cut shortly after his confirmation. Asked by a reporter on Tuesday if the Biden administration was still considering the Trump-era troop cut, Austin said the Department of Defense had “ceased planning” for the withdrawal.
Austin made the German troop level announcement on Tuesday alongside his counterpart, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
“It is great news that not only has the withdrawal of troops…from Germany been halted, but, quite the contrary; we will be able to welcome an additional 500 U.S. troops,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. “This is a very strong signal of our partnership and friendship.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer said she now has Biden’s word “there will be no troop reduction as was previously planned.”
“That’s how it should be among good friends and partners -– you give each other your word and keep to it,” she said.
The plans to increase the U.S. troop presence in Germany come just weeks after the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) reportedly raised its threat levels analysis in Europe to a “potential imminent crisis” amid a massive Russian troop buildup along its border with the Ukraine.
Austin and Kramp-Karrenbauer also met on Tuesday to discuss the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Germany is a major part of the U.S.-led coalition, which has been in the country for nearly 20 years.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported the U.S. will miss a May 1 deadline for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but that Biden is expected to announce the U.S. will finish the full troop drawdown in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which led to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the larger Global War on Terror.
The Taliban has paused attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the months since the Trump administration reached the U.S.-Taliban peace deal. The agreement, signed in February of 2020, laid out a 14-month timeline for the U.S. military to leave Afghanistan entirely. The