US drops plan to vacate troop bases in Germany, Belgium

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The US Army announced Friday that it would retain troop sites in Germany and Belgium that had been slated for handover, saying they were needed for “growing” defense demands in the region.

The announcement underscored President Joe Biden’s reversal of his predecessor Donald Trump’s plan to slash US troops in Europe and move some bases out of Germany.

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The army said its installations in Ansbach, Kaiserslautern, Mannheim, Pirmasens, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden in Germany and at Caserne Daumerie near Chievres in Belgium would not now be turned over to the host nations.

The locations include housing, support facilities, a base for storing hundreds of armored vehicles, a warehouse location and administrative offices.

The reversal to plans made years ago to leave the locations is “due to growing requirements in the European theater,” the army said in a statement.

In July 2020 Trump announced that the United States would withdraw almost 12,000 out of the nearly 35,000 US soldiers based in Germany, bringing some home and redeploying others elsewhere in Europe.

But Pentagon officials, citing the need for long-term planning for such moves, did not take immediate action and the current level of troops in Germany remains around 35,000.

After Biden came into office in January, the Trump plan was dropped as Washington views Russia as a significant threat to Europe and believes the US troop presence is crucial to the NATO mission.

In April, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon would actually add another 500 US military personnel to its rosters in Germany, to be based in Weisbaden.

In June around 28,000 soldiers from the United States and 25 allied countries took part in the Defender 21 military exercises for building readiness and interoperability between US, NATO and partner forces.

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