Speaking at the State Department on Thursday, Biden said the troop pullout would be halted until Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin does a review of America's troops presence around the globe. Austin, he said, will ensure that "our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities".
Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 US troops that are stationed in Germany. The US has several major military facilities in the country, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for US European Command and US Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American hospital outside the United States.
Trump's order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations. Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defence, calling the longtime NATO ally "delinquent" for failing to spend 2 per cent of its GDP on defence, the alliance benchmark.
The Pentagon began a review to determine which troops would be redeployed to other locations and which would remain in Germany. That study has been ongoing and there have been no reductions or changes to US troop levels since Trump's announcement.
Austin hinted at a likely reconsideration of the order in a conversation with his German counterpart last week.
Chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the issue of troop cuts came up during Austin's call with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and that Austin made it clear that he wants to review America's force posture around the globe.
"What he did assert to the defence minister was that whatever decision we make, we will do it in consultation with her and her government," Kirby said, adding that Austin "made it very clear that he values the support that we have received for so many years from Germany".
German officials have hoped that order will be rescinded by the new administration, and the German Defence Ministry said that in Austin's call with Kramp-Karrenbauer, he "emphasised that Germany is highly valued as a station and that American soldiers feel very comfortable here".
"The US continues to consider its presence in Germany as an important part of joint security," the Defense Ministry said in a readout of the call.
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