United States: Joe Biden ready to reverse Germany’s military withdrawal?

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Joe Biden and his team could reverse several decisions made by the Trump administration during the billionaire’s tenure. Among these decisions, the withdrawal of 12,000 American soldiers from Germany, announced on July 29 by the former Minister of Defense Mark Esper, unceremoniously sacked Monday by Donald Trump.

Of the approximately 34,500 soldiers currently deployed in the country, approximately 6,400 must be repatriated to the United States while the 5,600 others must be repositioned in other NATO countries, notably Belgium and Italy. But the new American president could reverse, at least partially, this withdrawal.

“We are reducing our forces because they do not pay”

Former Pentagon number three Michèle Flournoy, approached to lead the defense ministry of the new administration, even predicted it half-heartedly at a conference in August. Asked about this withdrawal plan during the Aspen Security Forum, she stressed that “if we have a new administration, the first thing it will do will be to re-examine the military posture in the world”. “I hope it will not be fully implemented, because I do not think it is in the strategic interest of the United States and it is very bad for our relations with the Atlantic Alliance, a- she added.

Mark Esper had justified this redeployment as strategically necessary, in particular as a deterrent against Russia, but Donald Trump immediately contradicted him, explaining that this withdrawal was due to Germany’s refusal to “pay more”. “We are tired of being pigeons,” said the Republican billionaire. “We are reducing our forces because they are not paying. It is very simple.” According to Michèle Flournoy, who was already approached to become the first woman to lead the First World Army in 2016 if Hillary Clinton had been elected, “it makes no sense”.

Seen as “a kind of punishment”

The planned redeployment “was seen as a kind of punishment, which unfortunately reinforces the discourse in Europe of those who say that we cannot count on the United States, that we do not value NATO. “, she regretted. Another Joe Biden adviser, Kathleen Hicks, sharply criticized the planned military withdrawal from Germany which “benefits our adversaries”, in a column published in August by The Hill newspaper. These decisions “will affect national security and the United States budget for years to come,” said Kathleen Hicks, researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

While Mark Esper had assured that the American soldiers permanently stationed in Germany would be replaced by rotations of equally dissuasive units, Ms. Hicks had stressed that these movements would “be expensive”. “To relocate 11,900 soldiers, their families and their equipment and to find new premises to house them, make them work and train them will cost even more money,” she added. Kathleen Hicks was named Tuesday as the head of the team the Democrats have put in place to coordinate the transition to the Department of Defense.

More American soldiers in Europe?

Germany, which hosts more American troops than any other European country, a legacy of the Allied occupation after World War II, is in a hurry to turn the Trump page. But in an interview with Agence France-Presse, the German head of transatlantic relations, Peter Beyer, mentioned in September the plan for a US military withdrawal.

“I don’t think a Biden administration would completely reverse this plan but I also doubt that he will pursue it with the same vehemence,” he said. Michèle Flournoy did not specify whether she was in favor of keeping all American forces in Germany, but she considered redeploying certain forces to the East. “I am all for re-examining our posture in Europe and improving it,” she said. “We may need more people in the Baltic States, Poland or Romania.”


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