The Pentagon will begin shifting thousands of U.S. troops out of Germany “within weeks” and move the headquarters of U.S. European Command from the country to Belgium, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Wednesday.
Some 11,900 personnel will be moved from Germany, taking U.S. forces there from 36,000 to 24,000. Roughly 5,600 of the troops will be repositioned elsewhere in Europe — including Belgium, Italy, Poland and “opportunities to put forces into the Baltics” — while some 6,400 would come back to the United States.
Of the troops heading back stateside, many will begin conducting rotational deployments back into Europe.
“These changes will unquestionably achieve the core principles of enhancing U.S. and NATO deterrence of Russia, strengthening NATO, reassuring allies and improving U.S. strategic flexibility,” Esper said.
The plan — part of President Trump’s decision to pull thousands of troops from Berlin in retaliation for what he claims is Germany’s delinquency in payments to NATO — will take years to pull off and cost billions of dollars to execute, according to Esper.
“Clearly the costs right now are estimates. It’ll take several billion dollars, I’d say single digits, but that’ll be spread out over time, obviously,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.
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