Twenty-two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee called on President Donald Trump Tuesday to reverse his decision to pull 9,500 U.S. troops out of Germany, warning that a withdrawal would send the wrong signal to Russia.
"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," the Republicans said in a letter to Trump.
"We strongly believe that NATO allies, such as Germany, should do more to contribute to our joint defense efforts," the letter said, "[but] we also know that the forward stationing of American troops since the end of World War II has helped to prevent another world war and, most importantly, has helped make America safer."
The lead signature on the letter was that of Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the committee's ranking member and usually a staunch supporter of Trump.
Democrats have also criticized the withdrawal decision, first reported by the Wall Street Journal June 5.
In a June 5 statement, Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said "this order is petty and preposterous."
He said Trump's move amounted to "another favor" for Russian President Vladimir Putin "and another leadership failure by this administration that further strains relations with our allies."
In a Twitter post, retired Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the former commander of U.S. Army Europe, said withdrawing troops from Germany would be a "colossal mistake" that was "not tied to any strategy."
Such a move would be a "gift for Putin," Hodges said. "the Kremlin has done nothing to earn/warrant a US drawdown."
The White House has yet to give the reasoning behind the planned drawdown from Germany, which would reduce the number of U.S. troops there to about 25,000.
At the White House Monday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany sidestepped questions on troop withdrawals from Germany.
“First, we have no announcements at this time,” McEnany said. “I know there’s reporting out there, but, as of this moment, there are no announcements.”
“The president is continually reassessing the best posture for the United States military forces and our presence overseas. I mean, we remain committed to working with our strong allies,” she added.
When asked if Trump would consult with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before making any announcements, McEnany said, “Again, no announcements at this time.”
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.