House Republicans oppose withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday warned President Donald Trump against withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany.

In a letter, 22 lawmakers led by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) argued reducing and capping troop levels in Europe would undermine the NATO alliance and spur aggression by Russia.

“We believe that such steps would significantly damage U.S. national security as well as strengthen the position of Russia to our detriment,” wrote the GOP lawmakers.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump has directed the removal of more than a quarter of the nearly 35,000 troops stationed in Germany over the coming months and to cap the U.S. presence there at 25,000 troops.

The administration has come under criticism from lawmakers in both parties. The Armed Services missive marks the largest Republican effort so far to convince the administration to change course. In addition to concerns over Russia, the GOP hawks argued capping the U.S. troop presence in Germany would impede military training and logistics.

“In Europe, the threats posed by Russia have not lessened, and we believe that signs of a weakened U.S. commitment to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism,” they wrote.

“In addition, the overall limit on troops would prevent us from conducting the exercises that are necessary for the training and readiness of our forces and those of our allies,” said the lawmakers. “The troop limit would also significantly reduce the number of U.S. forces that can flow through Germany for deployment to bases around the world, causing serious logistical challenges.”

Trump’s term has been marked by conflict with NATO allies as he pushed for member nations to significantly boost spending on their own militaries and cast the alliance as outdated.

Republicans said the alliance should “spread its costs more equitably” but warned NATO’s “work is not done.”

“[W]e believe that our continued strong involvement in the alliance is fundamental to our nation’s security and integral to protecting our people,” they wrote. ” Withdrawals and limitations of the kind being reported would make that job more difficult.”

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