- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Six Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are urging President Trump to reconsider his plan to cut the number of troops stationed in Germany, arguing that the move would weaken NATO’s long-standing deterrence against China and Russia.

Mr. Trump earlier this month ordered the Pentagon to cut thousands of troops by September, a move that experts have warned could deeply impact the historic U.S.-German relationship.

The president later doubled down on the move, when he told reporters that he’s prepared to recall about half of the U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany if that nation doesn’t pay more to NATO and treat Washington more fairly on trade issues.

In a new letter obtained by The Washington Times Tuesday, the lawmakers, led by Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and the committee’s top Republican Michael McCaul of Texas, expressed “concern” over the plan and said that the U.S. presence in Germany has benefited American interests beyond just Europe, and into the Middle East and Africa where Russia and China have been repositioning their posture.

“The U.S. forward presence in Germany serves as a cornerstone of NATO’s deterrent against Russian aggression,” the lawmakers wrote. “This is not the time to take any action that might cause the Putin regime to question the credibility of the NATO deterrent or might lead our NATO allies and partners to doubt the U.S. commitment to our collective security.”

At his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, Mr. Trump said Germany has been “delinquent” in its NATO payments and reiterated his plan to reduce the U.S. force presence within the borders of the historic American ally.

“They haven’t been paying what they’re supposed to be paying,” he said.

The president’s plan would reduce by about 28% the number of U.S. military personnel in the country, pulling back 9,500 from the 34,500 who are now there. There has also been speculation some of the forces in Germany could be redeployed in Poland and elsewhere in Europe closer to Russia.

“Our adversaries understand that the American alliance network is at the heart of the U.S. comparative advantage and will seek to exploit any cracks in transatlantic ties,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that they are “troubled” that members of the alliance had not been consulted prior to Mr. Trump’s announcement.

They praised Mr. Trump’s attempts to encourage other nations to contribute more to NATO costs, but they said that a troop withdrawal would reverse the efforts to convince allies to spend more and instead put U.S. interests at risk.

“The United States should continue to lead by example and remain fully committed to the NATO alliance, which has successfully deterred the outbreak of another costly world war on the continent since its formation,” the lawmakers wrote.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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