Withdrawal of US Troops from Germany is Not Being Discussed, US Ambassador to NATO Says

From Washington Post: The Trump administration’s ambassador to NATO said Thursday that no discussions are underway regarding withdrawal of U.S. troops in Germany , which she said remain an integral part of U.S. and alliance security strategy.

“There is nothing being said at all about the troop alignment in Germany or anything that would change” the basing arrangements there, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters in a briefing about next week’s NATO summit. “I’ve heard nothing on that score.

The Pentagon has undertaken a cost analysis of the 35,000 U.S. troops based in Germany as part of NATO and other missions, following expressions of concern by President Trump about the size and expense of their presence there….

While noting that “we need to do more” on defense spending, Hutchison said that more than half of NATO’s members were on track to achieve the target set by the alliance of 2 percent of gross domestic product spent on defense by 2024.

“We will talk about the biggest increase in defense spending by our allies since the Cold War,” she said. “Every one of our allies — 100 percent — are increasing defense spending.”

She said she expected unanimous agreement among NATO’s 29 members on proposals to reform the alliance command structure, increase readiness for possible threats from Russia on NATO’s eastern flank, add a new training mission for Iraq and increase counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

The overall theme of this summit is going to be NATO’s strength and unity,” Hutchison said….

The two ambassadors laid out a preliminary schedule for Trump’s travels. The president will arrive in Brussels the evening of July 10 and meet with other NATO leaders the following morning for a discussion of “defense and deterrence issues.” He will hold a working dinner later….

Other than with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump has no other bilateral meetings scheduled.

From Defense One: Hutchison said she expected NATO members to adopt a list of actions furthering the alliance’s reforms, continuing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and branching into “hybrid” warfare of information operations.

“This is a very substantive and meaty summit,” she said. “I think it’s going to be one of the most productive that we’ve ever had.”

The call also included U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman….

After NATO, Trump will visit London and then head to the highly-anticipated meeting with Putin, where he will meet alone with the Russian president before the sides meet together with staff. It was Trump’s idea, said Hunstman….

The president has determined that now is the time for direct communication between himself and President Putin, and that it is in the interest of the United States, in the interest of Russia, in the interest of peace and security around the world,” said Huntsman. “And that’s the way he’s proceeding.”

Image: US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, November 17, 2017 (photo: Halifax International Security Forum)