- The Washington Times
Friday, July 31, 2020

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is developing plans to move its headquarters in Germany to another European country, or potentially the U.S., after President Trump announced that nearly 12,000 American troops would be relocated from Germany.

The repositioning plan was announced earlier this week and is designed solely to increase NATO’s security and ensure that U.S. forces are best positioned to defend the alliance from Russia or other bad actors in the region, defense officials said.

U.S. troop levels in Germany are expected to drop from 36,000 to 24,000 and the long-standing U.S. European Command (EUCOM) headquarters will relocate from Stuttgart to Mons, Belgium. A bulk of the troops will return to the U.S., while others will be deployed to other European countries.

But EUCOM is not alone in the overhaul. The commander of AFRICOM, Gen. Stephen Townsend, said Friday that “U.S. Africa Command has been told to plan to move.”

“While it will likely take several months to develop options, consider locations, and come to a decision, the command has started the process. We will ensure we continue to support our host nation and African partners and our families and forces throughout.”

The reshuffling follows complaints from Mr. Trump that Germany was not paying its fair share to NATO’s collective defense. He has stated, however, that he was willing to “rethink” the shifts “if they start paying their bills.”

Germany will spend about 1.25% of gross domestic product on defense this year, well below the 2% target that NATO countries are pledged to meet by 2024.

AFRICOM was established in 2008 and has been headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. It remains unclear to where the headquarters will be relocated, but Gen. Townsend said that “potential options will be assessed to ensure appropriate positioning of forces to deal with future challenges.”

“It is important our African partners understand our commitment to them remains strong,” said Gen. Townsend. “U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with our African and other partners to address mutual interests.”

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