Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Wednesday that the United States would pull nearly 12,000 troops out of Germany, starting in the coming weeks, ostensibly to beef up U.S. deterrence against Russia. Immediately after, Esper was undercut by U.S. President Donald Trump, who described the troop withdrawal as a reprisal against Germany for not meeting its defense-spending targets.
Pentagon and military officials insisted the redeployments, which came after Germany rebuked an invitation to an upcoming G-7 conference over a possible Russian invite from Trump, were part of a strategic plan to give the U.S. military more flexibility to move rotational forces forward into the Black Sea and Baltic regions to counter Russian aggression, and they said the move has nothing to do with German defense spending. Trump himself undercut that message minutes later.
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