National Security

German States Ask Congress Not to Remove U.S. Troops

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The leaders of four German states wrote to Congress asking for a halt to Washington's troop withdrawal plan from the country, Reuters reported Sunday.

The premiers of the four states—all of which have U.S. bases—addressed their letters to 13 members of Congress, including Sens. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) and Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.). Inhofe chairs the Armed Services Committee, while Romney is a leading member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

"We therefore ask you to support us as we strive not to sever the bond of friendship but to strengthen it, and to secure the U.S. presence in Germany and Europe in the future," the ministers of Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Hesse wrote.

The German officials wrote that the troops "form the backbone of the U.S. presence in Europe and NATO's ability to act."

Current plans offered by President Donald Trump would cut back the U.S. military presence in Germany by 9,500 troops, reducing the total American footprint to 25,000. The White House proposed the drawback in troops after citing a one-sided relationship on trade and defense spending.

Last month, the Defense Department said the rollback of the American military presence would "enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, [and] reassure Allies."

A longstanding cornerstone of the transatlantic alliance, NATO has faced significant criticism that some member states are unwilling to contribute to the collective defense system proportionately. Germany spent 1.36 percent of its GDP on defense in 2019, compared with the United States' 3.42 percent—the most among NATO countries. Many, however, remain hopeful for the institution's future.

"Fundamentally, NATO has endured because it is a community of shared values—of democracy, freedom, market economics, solidarity, and mutual respect," wrote George W. Bush Institute director Lindsay Lloyd. "The United States and our partners share a strong interest in preserving this partnership—it has worked to our common benefit for 70 years and continues to do so today."