U.S. President Donald Trump directed the Department of Defense to bring 9,500 U.S. troops in Germany back home by September, said The Wall Street Journal on Friday (local time). It is expected to increase concerns among other U.S. allies including South Korea, which is currently in negotiation for defense costs.
U.S. government officials were quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying that President Trump’s military reduction order aims to cap the number of U.S. forces stationed in Germany at any given time to 25,000 personnel – around 9,500 down from the current level of 34,500. It has been said that the Trump administration started discussing the issue last September and U.S. National security adviser Robert O'Brien recently signed a memorandum to bring the plan into effect. Experts see that President Trump’s military reduction plan indicates how displeased the White House is with the “Nord Stream 2 project” to connect gas pipelines between Germany and Russia and with high U.S. defense costs spent on Germany.
There is a general consensus among military experts that once U.S. troops in Germany are reduced to the planned levels it will have a ripple effect on U.S. forces in South Korea. The U.S. government may use a gradual reduction or withdrawal of 28,500 U.S. troops - including forces on rotating deployment - from South Korea as a bargaining card at the negotiating able to discuss defense cost shares. “The U.S. administration has justified raising defense costs by mentioning rotating deployment expenditures spent on South Korea. It may bring up a plan to reduce the scale of U.S. forces in South Korea if Seoul ends up refusing the U.S. proposal that Seoul should pay 1.3 billion dollars with a one-year term,” according to a military source.
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