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Pentagon chief: US sending 500 more troops to Germany

Pentagon chief: US sending 500 more troops to Germany
© Greg Nash

The Pentagon will add 500 U.S. troops to its presence in Germany, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Ex-Pentagon chief defends Capitol attack response as GOP downplays violence | Austin, Biden confer with Israeli counterparts amid conflict with Hamas | Lawmakers press Pentagon officials on visas for Afghan partners Trump appointee endorses Christine Wormuth as Army secretary Austin repeats 'ironclad support' for Israel in conflict with Palestine MORE announced Tuesday, reversing the Trump administration’s plan to slash the number stationed there by thousands.

“Today, I'm happy to announce that we will be increasing the U.S. force presence in Germany,” Austin said at a news conference in Berlin alongside his German counterpart.

“These forces will strengthen deterrence and defense in Europe, and they will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict, and if necessary, to fight and win,” he added.

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The troops will be stationed in the Wiesbaden area and arrive as soon as this fall, Austin said.

Last year, then-President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE ordered a drawdown of nearly 12,000 of the 36,000 U.S. troops in Germany as retribution for what he described as Berlin’s “delinquency” on its defense spending.

Trump’s plan took the U.S. ally by surprise and was lambasted by lawmakers in both parties as ill-thought-out and a gift to Russia, which U.S. forces in Europe are meant to deter.

In February, President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE announced he was freezing Trump’s planned drawdown from Germany while the Pentagon conducts a global posture review.

At Tuesday’s news conference, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer hailed Austin’s announcement of sending more troops to Germany as “great news.”

"This is a very strong signal of our partnership and friendship,” she said.

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The Biden administration's decision to not only reverse Trump’s drawdown but add forces to Germany comes as Russia is amassing forces on its border with Ukraine, alarming U.S. and European officials.

Austin sidestepped questions on whether the decision to bulk up the U.S. military presence is meant to send a message to Russia amid the Ukraine tensions, but he stressed the U.S. commitment to its allies.

“Let me assure you it’s a message to NATO, and that message is that we support NATO to the fullest extent, and most importantly we value the relationship with our partner here in Germany,” he said.

Austin also said the extra troops will bring more capabilities to Europe in the space, cyber and electronic warfare domains.

Asked for more details on the planned increase at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing later Tuesday, Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command, said the 500 additional troops “will approve our ability in all domains” and “increase our ability to deter.”

“We’re very excited,” Wolters said.