US transferring 1,500 soldiers to Germany

Despite repeated bluster from US President Donald Trump about NATO, the US will increase its presence in Germany. Germany has welcomed the move as a commitment to the defense of Europe.

The US is transferring 1,500 soldiers to Germany, Ambassador Richard Grenell announced on Friday.

The move, while not a major increase percentage-wise, is a strong signal of the US support for the NATO alliance.

Read more: How does Germany contribute to NATO?

Details of the plan

  • Between now and September 2020, 1,500 additional soldiers will join the 33,000 US troops in Germany.
  • The deployment will include a field artillery brigade headquarters and two multiple launch rocket system battalions in Grafenwöhr, near Nuremberg, a short-range air defense battalion in Ansbach, and various supporting units in nearby Hohenfels.
  • Outside Bavaria, supporting units will also be sent to Baumholder, west of Heidelberg.

Read more: Can the trans-Atlantic relationship survive Donald Trump?

Politics

Trump on NATO: A war of words

Even before taking office, US President Donald Trump's relationship with NATO has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. He has disparaged the trans-Atlantic alliance, once describing it as "obsolete" and a relic of the Cold War. Here are Trump's most memorable quotes about the military alliance, even if they are at times false.

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'Days of the Soviet Union'

While on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump made clear that he saw NATO as a relic of the Cold War. "You know, we're dealing with NATO from the days of the Soviet Union, which no longer exists. We need to either transition into terror or we need something else." But his remarks didn't account for how the alliance backed the US well after the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially in Afghanistan.

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'Germany owes vast sums'

Trump has made defense spending his main talking point on NATO. But he has falsely accused member states of owing money to Washington, saying: "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO, and the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany." The problem is NATO doesn't work like that. No money is owed to the alliance for defense or otherwise.

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'Obsolete'

Days before his inauguration, Trump caught NATO members off guard when he claimed the alliance was "obsolete" and threatened to withdraw support. "I said a long time ago that NATO had problems: Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago." Months later, he retracted his statement, citing changes within the alliance. "Now they fight terrorism," he said.

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'Doesn't sound very smart'

Trump had tended to lump trade between US allies with how much Washington spends on defense. "We are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion (in trade losses). That doesn't sound very smart to me," Trump said. The problem is that while NATO members have agreed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, the alliance has nothing to do with international trade.

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'We are the schmucks'

During a 2018 rally in Montana, Trump hit out at European allies, saying: "They want (us) to protect against Russia, and yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia, and we're the schmucks paying for the whole thing." Trump was referring to Russia as Europe's primary source for oil and natural gas, but he created a false dichotomy between energy reliance and NATO's defense spending goal.

Politics

Montenegro 'may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in World War III"

In an interview with Fox News, Trump was asked why the US should jump the defense of NATO ally Montenegro in the event of an attack. The president said he'd asked himself the same question, appearing undermine the military alliance's collective defense clause. Trump went on to describe Montenegrins as a "very strong" and "very aggressive," and that that aggression risked starting World War III.

'Commiment to NATO'

The US Army's European headquarters in, near Frankfurt, said the new troops would be permanently stationed as "a display of our continued commitment to NATO and our collective resolve to support European security."

"The addition of these forces increases US Army readiness in Europe and ensures we are better able to respond to any crisis."

Ambassador Grenell said: "Americans are committed to strengthening the transatlantic alliance and President Trump's promise to increase US defense capabilities means the alliance is stronger today."

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said: "The US decision to increase the military presence here in Germany is a welcome sign of the vitality of the transatlantic relationship and a commitment to our joint security," she said.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Germany in particular for, in his eyes, not contributing enough militarily to the defense of Europe. He has repeatedly raised questions about US commitment to the alliance, but would seem to signal a commitment to US involvement in the defense of Europe.

Meanwhile: Fellow NATO member the UK has prepared to withdraw 350 troops from Paderborn, east of Dortmund, reducing its deployment in Germany by about 10 percent.

Read more: Frankfurt used as remote hacking base for the CIA: WikiLeaks

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Friendly fire: How united Is NATO?

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