Defense Secretary Mark Esper will present President Donald Trump with a series of options on Monday to withdraw thousands of American soldiers from Germany, many of whom will travel to Eastern Europe, the Pentagon said on Saturday.
“Secretary Esper met with President Trump on Wednesday to discuss our presence in Europe,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
“On Monday, the secretary will inform the president of the White House of the options for our posture of strength in Germany.”
According to two senior Pentagon officials, the plan plans to reduce the permanent presence of American troops in Germany to 25,000, as Trump announced on June 15, for a reduction of 9,500 soldiers.
Some of the 9,500 will return to the United States, while others will be transferred to former Soviet bloc countries, the two officials said on condition of anonymity.
This change, they added, would be a clear warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose military ambitions were underscored by the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The two officials did not specify to which European country the troops could be moved, because that is part of the options to present to the American president.
But Trump, meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House on Wednesday, said Wednesday that Poland would be one of the European countries receiving US troops.
The two said that some of the troops would be permanently based there, but that most would be rotated across the country.
NATO promised Russia in 1997 not to establish permanent bases in the former Eastern bloc. So far, with increasing tensions, the Atlantic alliance has only turned troops in the countries geographically closest to Russia.
But the United States considers that the annexation of Crimea and the continuation of the conflict on the Ukrainian-Russian border are free from their previous engagement.
In addition, one of the Pentagon’s officials said, the deployments will be based on bilateral agreements between the United States and the countries concerned, and will not take place under the aegis of NATO.
The rotation system offers greater flexibility and a higher level of unpredictability – which makes it more destabilizing for Russia, added the official.
But the schedule for troop movements remains vague, with the US presidential election just over four months away.
Trump’s announcement of a troop transfer came shortly after German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would not attend a G-7 summit that the President wanted to host this month. The two have long had a strained relationship.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)