The US military has unveiled plans to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany following a decision by President Donald Trump but says it will keep nearly half of them in Europe.
Mr Trump announced his intention last month to cut the 36,000-strong US troop contingent in Germany to 25,000, faulting the close US ally for failing to meet NATO’s defence spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the United States on trade.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has sought, however, to present the withdrawal in a way that would prevent undermining NATO and its efforts to deter Russian intervention, following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
In remarks likely to irk officials in Moscow, Mr Esper said some US troops would reposition to the Black Sea region and some could temporarily deploy in waves to the Baltics.
Other forces leaving Germany would permanently move to Italy and the US military’s European headquarters would relocate from Stuttgart, Germany, to Belgium.
In total, about 5600 troops of the 12,000 leaving Germany are expected to remain in Europe.
Many of the remaining forces will be based in the United States but will rotate into Europe for temporary deployments without their families.