Sen. James Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has thrown his support behind President Trump’s disputed decision to draw down roughly a third of the U.S. troops stationed in Germany.
While support from Mr. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and an ally of Mr. Trump, is largely unsurprising, many conservative defense hawks on Capitol Hill have staunchly opposed the move.
In a surprise announcement last month, Mr. Trump approved plans that would shift almost 10,000 troops currently based in Germany to other locations after demanding Berlin to increase their financial contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO.)
The House this week approved its version of the annual defense policy bill that includes a provision that would halt the troop drawdown from Germany, despite veto threats from Mr. Trump. A small group of Senate Republicans sought to include similar language in its version of the bill, which is expected to see a vote this week, but ultimately failed to see enough support.
Despite pushback from lawmakers and allies who say the move may shake the historic U.S.-Germany alliance amid increasing threats from China and Russia, the Department of Defense officials have said that the move instead strengthens the NATO alliance, reassures partners, improves strategic flexibility and serves as a deterrence from Moscow.
“I believe the concept for realigning U.S. military posture in Europe, as the president has approved, is sound,” Mr. Inhofe said, adding that he became convinced following a Wednesday briefing from acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson and U.S. European Command chief Gen. Tod Wolters.
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 that country.
There has also been speculation some of the forces in Germany could be redeployed in Poland and elsewhere in Europe closer to Russia.
Mr. Inhofe explained that the move “will take months to plan and years to execute.”
“Rigorous planning and deliberate implementation of this concept is the best way to give our military families a measure of certainty and ensure they receive the care and support they deserve,” he said, stressing the importance of communications with NATO allies throughout the transition.