Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Tuesday that he is expanding the US military presence in Germany by 500 troops, suggesting he will not carry out a Trump administration order to withdraw thousands of them.
“This planned increase in US personnel underscores our commitment to Germany and the entire NATO alliance,” Austin said in a notable counterpoint to the Trump administration’s repeated complaints that Germany is a weak partner on defense and security.
Austin made the announcement after talks with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on his first tour of Europe since becoming Pentagon chief in January.
Kramp-Karrenbauer welcomed the announcement as a “strong signal” of a healthy US-German relationship.
They also discussed a pending decision by President Joe Biden on whether to withdraw completely from Afghanistan by May 1, a deadline the Trump administration pledged to the Taliban militants. Germany is a key part of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan.
Austin said at a joint news conference with Kramp-Karrenbauer that the extra 500 US troops will be stationed permanently in Germany’s Wiesbaden area as early as this fall.