German public ‘unconcerned’ at US troop withdrawal

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by ARNO BURGI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10730669a) (FILE) - A High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or also Humvee) of the US armed forces in Europe drives from the Military History Museum through the city towards the Autobahn in Dresden, Germany, 01 June 2016 (reissued 02 August 2020). According to media reports, the US government wants to reduce the number of soldiers stationed in Germany by up to 12,000. US to withdraw up to 12,000 soldiers from Germany, Dresden - 01 Jun 2016 - ARNO BURGI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ARNO BURGI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10730669a) (FILE) – A High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or also Humvee) of the US armed forces in Europe drives from the Military History Museum through the city towards the Autobahn in Dresden, Germany, 01 June 2016 (reissued 02 August 2020). According to media reports, the US government wants to reduce the number of soldiers stationed in Germany by up to 12,000. US to withdraw up to 12,000 soldiers from Germany, Dresden – 01 Jun 2016 – ARNO BURGI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Most Germans are unconcerned by US plans to withdraw almost 12,000 troops currently stationed in the country, according to a new survey published on Tuesday.

Angela Merkel’s government has expressed dismay at the move, which Donald Trump said was in response to Germany’s failure to pay enough towards the cost of its defence.

But a poll by YouGov found 47 per cent of Germans are in favour of reducing the number of American troops based on their soil.

Only 32 per cent were opposed to any drop in the US presence, while 21 per cent expressed no opinion on the issue.

Most striking of all, a quarter of those surveyed said they would support a complete withdrawal of all US troops from Germany.

An F-16 fighter aircraft flies over the runway of the US military airportin Spangdahlem, Germany, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Spurred on by President Donald Trump’s demand to pull troops out of Germany, the U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe. (Harald Tittel/dpa via AP) - Harald Tittel/DPA
An F-16 fighter aircraft flies over the runway of the US military airportin Spangdahlem, Germany, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Spurred on by President Donald Trump’s demand to pull troops out of Germany, the U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe. (Harald Tittel/dpa via AP) – Harald Tittel/DPA

The US currently has around 36,000 military personnel stationed in Germany, a legacy of the Cold War division of the country.

The Pentagon announced the withdrawal of around 11,900 of its troops last week, claiming  the move was intended to strengthen Nato and deter Russian aggression.

But President Trump said it was intended to punish a “delinquent” Germany, adding: “They’re there to protect Germany, right? And Germany is supposed to pay for it. Germany’s not paying for it. We don’t want to be the suckers any more.”

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German defence minister, said the move was “regrettable”, but the new findings suggest most Germans do not agree.

The presence of US forces has long been controversial in Germany. US bases in Germany have provided support to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many Germans argue the troops are not in their country to contribute to its defence but to project American power across the world.

German concern at the withdrawal has been largely confined to potential job losses for locals employed by the US military.

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