Alwaght- The US has threatened to withdraw its military forces from Germany amid a dispute with Berlin over defense spending.
Richard Grenell, the US ambassador in Germany, warned that his country could pull out some of its forces if Germany continues to fall short of the alliance’s spending target of 2 per cent of GDP.
“It is actually offensive to assume that the US taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany, but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs,” Mr Grenell told Germany’s DPA news agency.
The remarks will add to concerns that the Nato alliance is becoming strained by President Trump’s impatience with German military spending.
The US currently has just over 35,000 troops stationed in Germany, together with 17,000 American civilian support staff.
By far the biggest US deployment in Europe, it is a legacy of the Cold War, when West Germany lay on the frontline with the Soviets and was considered Nato’s first line of defense.
But in what is a clearly coordinated message from the Trump administration, Mr Grenell is not the only US diplomat to suggest the longstanding alliance with Germany is in trouble.
Georgette Mosbacher, the American ambassador in Warsaw, made clear that US has other options when she called for the troops in Germany to be transferred to Poland.
“Poland meets its 2% of GDP spending obligation towards Nato. Germany does not. We would welcome American troops in Germany to come to Poland,” Ms Mosbacher wrote on Twitter.
President Trump alluded to this possibility in June, when he told a press conference that 1,000 troops for a planned new deployment in Poland would be drawn from those stationed in Germany.
“President Trump is right and Georgette Mosbacher is right,” Mr Grenell said on Friday. “Numerous presidents have asked Europe's largest economy to pay for their own defense. This is a plea that has dragged on for many years and many governments.”
While the withdrawal of American troops might prove popular with a few on the German left, it would be a stark reminder of how reliant Europe’s biggest economy is on the US for its defense.
Underfunding has left the German military facing equipment shortages so severe that at one point troops were forced to train with broomsticks instead of guns.
The German parliament’s own military watchdog warned last year that the shortages mean the country cannot meet its Nato commitments, and it emerged this week that almost half the German air force’s pilots cannot meet Nato’s minimum training hours because their aircraft are grounded by maintenance issues.
Yet despite repeated pledges from Mrs Merkel and successive German defense ministers to move towards the Nato target, German military spending remains far short at just 1.3 per cent of GDP this year.