- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah Republican, hit back at the Trump administration’s proposed plans to scale down the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany, calling the move a “slap in the face” to a key ally.

President Trump last month said he’s prepared to recall nearly a third of U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany if that nation doesn’t pay more to NATO and treat Washington more fairly on trade issues.

He argued that the current deployment of U.S. troops in Germany is a “tremendous” cost to America that isn’t being reciprocated.

But Mr. Romney, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor late Monday that “the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Germany is a very bad idea.”

“First of all, it’s a slap in the face at a key ally, a friend, and a great country,” he continued and pointed to Germany’s current 1.5% military spending. Mr. Trump has demanded the country reach 2%.

He also cited a growing threat from China to western democracies and said, “Now is also a time to draw our friends closer, to link arms with our allies, in part because of China’s ambition to become the dominant player on the earth, to displace the West, to displace the United States, and to supplant democracy with authoritarian despotism.”

Mr. Romney has proposed an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would maintain the current troop levels in Germany, while the House Armed Services Committee has unanimously approved similar language for its version of the bill.

Although around 50,000 American troops are authorized to be stationed in Germany, currently there are about 34,000 U.S. troops deployed in the country. Mr. Trump has said he is seeking to cut about 28%, or 9,500 troops, from the American force presence in the country.

There has also been speculation some of the forces in Germany could be redeployed in Poland and elsewhere in Europe closer to Russia.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have urged the president to reconsider his plan, arguing that the move would weaken NATO’s long-standing deterrence against China and Russia.

“This is a matter of extraordinary significance to American foreign policy,” Mr. Romney said and called for his amendment to be included in the manager’s package of the bill.

The Senate continues to review the National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday.

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