US Defense Secretary Mark Esper reported today that will withdraw 11,900 soldiers from Germany, of which 5,600 will relocate to other NATO countries, mainly Belgium and Italy, and another 6,400 will return to the country, within the plan of US President Donald Trump.

“The current European Command plan will relocate approximately 11,900 German military personnel – out of some 34,500 existing – so that NATO will be strengthened and will ensure Russia’s deterrence “Esper said in an appearance before journalists at the Pentagon.

Esper added that several of the operations centers will also be moved outside of Germany and will share locations with NATO partners such as Belgium and Italy, which will improve “operational efficiency and availability.”

Retaliatory measure

On the times, he offered a broad horizon, pointing out that “some of these movements could take place in weeks” while “others would take more time.” Trump announced in mid-June his intention to reduce the number of US troops in Germany, in retaliation for insufficient spending on defense of Berlin and for, in his opinion, taking advantage of the US in commercial matters. In this sense, the White House leader justified the withdrawal of troops by strongly accusing Germany. “The criminal of Germany. He has not paid his NATO fees. He is far away and has benefited for years, and has no intention of paying it, and has taken advantage of the United States, in trade, in the military, and in everything else for many years. And so far I’ve been fixing it, but Germany owes billions and billions of dollars to NATO, and why we should keep all those troops there, “says Trump.

The United States currently has some 52,000 troops deployed at German bases, of which some 34,500 are active soldiers and the rest are civilian employees of the Department of Defense.

Germany is the country in Europe with the most American troops, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. These military personnel have been in German territory since the end of the Second World War (1939-1945) and, in times of the Cold War, they were considered as a containment force against the Soviet Union.