Earlier this month the White House controversially ordered a significant troop draw down from Germany after a decades-long build up as part of Cold War era deals. On June 5th President Trump directed the Pentagon to withdraw 9,500 US troops from Germany by September, following years of the administration severely criticizing lack of enough military spending from its NATO ally.
A number of reports suggested a broader US troop pullout from Germany was popular among the German public, and some say that even within the ranks of the US military it is seen as a good thing - or rather Trump making good on prior 'America first' promises involving not being a global policeman. However, a number of retired generals have spoken out against it.
But now Congressional Democrats are seeking to block the Germany drawdown. The bill introduced this week by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) imposes a number of severe conditions which most likely preclude such a troop exit.
“The current U.S. troop presence in Germany is in the U.S. national security interest. Full stop,” Menendez said in a statement, according The Hill.
Amazingly, the senator pulled the 'Putin wanted it' card, again suggesting that somehow Trump's major foreign policy decisions are ultimately at the bidding of the Kremlin:
“The administration has made no effort to explain how our country is stronger because of this drawdown decision. Because we’re not. This drawdown weakens America and Europe. And Vladimir Putin understands and appreciates that better than anyone.”
The Democratic leaders say they have bi-partisan support for blocking a Germany troop reduction.
Meanwhile Engel also played the Russia card, given the initial decades-long build-up of forces at multiple major bases in Germany were during the Cold War and aimed at the Soviets.
Engel said “rather than heeding the overwhelming bipartisan rebuke from Congress about this scheme and its catastrophic consequences, President Trump has once again made foreign policy decisions based solely on his absurd affection for Vladimir Putin, a murderous dictator who has attacked America and our allies.”
Given the number of anti-Russia hawks among Congressional Republicans, the Dems are indeed likely to gain bipartisan support in their efforts to stymie a troop reduction.
Trump's proposed reduction would result in a new "cap" of 25,000 maximum troop levels in the country. The WSJ had previously noted that "Under current practice, overall troop levels can rise to as high as 52,000 as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises."
It's commonly estimated that about 34,500 US troops are permanently assigned to Germany.