U.S. will cut nearly 12,000 troops from Germany

The United States plans to withdraw 11,900 military personnel from Germany, reducing U.S. troops there from some 36,000 to 24,000, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Wednesday.

Among the U.S. troops, about 5,600 will be repositioned to other NATO countries, while the rest will be returned to the United States. Some will begin rotational deployment back to Europe, the Pentagon chief told a news briefing.

Some U.S. forces currently stationed in Germany would be redeployed to Belgium and Italy, and others would begin continuous rotation in the Black Sea region, according to Esper.

"We also plan on rotating forward the lead element of the Army's newly established V Corps headquarters to Poland, once Warsaw agrees to a Defense Cooperation Agreement and burden sharing details, as previously pledged," he said.

Esper noted that the Pentagon seeks to implement its plans "as expeditiously as possible," adding that redeployment could begin within weeks.

Criticizing Berlin's "delinquency" on military spending, Trump last month ordered the U.S. military to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany. "Until they pay, we're removing our soldiers," he said.

SOUNDBITE: MARK ESPER, U.S. Secretary of Defense

"The current EUCOM plan will reposition approximately 11,900 military personnel from Germany - from roughly 36,000 down to 24,000 - in a manner that will strengthen NATO, enhance the deterrence of Russia, and meet the other principles I set forth."

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