Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the announcement on Tuesday that he is going to expand the presence of the U.S. military in the nation of Germany by 500 troops and has stopped the plans for a large-scale troop cut ordered by the previous administration.
“This planned increase in U.S. personnel underscores our commitment to Germany and the entire NATO alliance,” Austin said in his announcement, providing a counterpoint to the former Trump administration’s complaint that Germany is a weak partner when it comes to defense and security.
Austin made the announcement after talks with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on his first tour of Europe since becoming Pentagon chief in January.
Kramp-Karrenbauer welcomed the announcement as a “strong signal” of a healthy U.S.-German relationship.
They also discussed a pending decision by President Joe Biden on whether to withdraw completely from Afghanistan by May 1, a deadline the Trump administration pledged to the Taliban militants. Germany is a key part of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.
Austin said at a joint news conference with Kramp-Karrenbauer that the extra 500 U.S. troops will be stationed permanently in Germany’s Wiesbaden area as early as this fall.
“These forces will strengthen deterrence and defense in Europe. They will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict, and, if necessary, fight and win,” Austin stated.
“This move will also create more space, more cyber, and more electronic warfare capabilities in Europe,” he said, and adding that it will “greatly improve our ability to surge forces at a moment’s notice to defend our allies.”
Last year, former President Donald Trump had ordered the withdrawal of close to 12,000 troops from Germany as a spot of retribution for Germany not being willing to spend more of their own money on their defense.
The United States currently has 35,000 troops in Germany.