A Pentagon spokesman on Monday pushed back on suggestions that a new Defense Department-initiated audit of U.S. troops stationed in Germany is in anticipation of potential orders from the White House to reduce U.S. force presence in Europe.
Col. Rob Manning said the Department of Defense (DOD) started its own cost review of U.S. troops stationed in Germany and President Trump ’s National Security Council did not request such an analysis.
The comment follows reports that Trump was taken aback during a White House meeting earlier this year upon learning of the size of the 35,000 U.S. forces deployed in the country — home of the U.S. European and Africa commands headquarters.
“We regularly review our posture and we perform cost-benefit analysis to make sure that we’ve got the right forces in the right place with the right capabilities. That’s a constant process across DOD’s footprint,” Manning told reporters at the Pentagon. “Germany is host to the largest U.S. force presence in Europe. We remain deeply rooted in the common values and strong relationship between our countries.”
The Washington Post reported last week that the Pentagon started the review to scrutinize “the cost and impact of a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of American troops stationed in Germany.”
Trump, who will attend the NATO summit in Brussels next week, has routinely complained that countries in the alliance have not met their pledge to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2020.
And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in May that Europe can no longer count on the United States to protect it, urging the continent to “take destiny into its own hands.”
Merkel made similar comments last spring after Trump attended a summit of NATO allies, accusing them of not spending enough on their own defense.