Despite Trump’s threat, top general says White House hasn’t given order to pull troops from Germany

Aircrafts of the US Air Force are on display at the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) in Schoenefeld on May 30, 2016.

The top U.S. Air Force general in Europe said Thursday he has not received orders from the White House to begin pulling airmen from Germany, even as President Trump earlier this week vowed to withdraw thousands of troops from U.S. bases in the country.

“I have not received any specific guidance directing me to do any specific planning on that at this particular point,” U.S. Air Forces in Europe head Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters during a media call.

Harrigian, who is also the commander for the U.S. Air Forces Africa, referred all questions on the topic to the White House.

Trump on Monday confirmed reports that he would slash the number of U.S. troops in Germany by about 9,500, leaving about 25,000 there. The country is home to the U.S. military’s European and Africa command headquarters. The headquarters for U.S. Air Force in Europe and Air Forces Africa, for example, is located at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Trump faulted Germany for not meeting NATO’s defense spending goal in his reasoning for pulling the U.S. forces, telling reporters that he wants the troops home by September.  

“Germany’s delinquent,” he said. “They’ve been delinquent for years, and they owe NATO billions of dollars, and they have to pay it. So we’re protecting Germany, and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense.”

NATO countries in 2014 agreed to each spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on their defense budgets by 2024, though Germany is not on track to meet such a goal. 

Only eight countries are at the 2 percent mark, with several others planning to meet it by the deadline.

Trump’s move has received a bipartisan backlash in Congress since The Wall Street Journal reported on the decision earlier this month. 

Last week, 22 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee wrote Trump a letter urging him to reverse course. And on Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)  introduced a bill aimed at blocking Trump’s plan.

Tags Bob Menendez Donald Trump Eliot Engel Germany NATO

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