US-Truppenabzug aus Deutschland: „Back to the drawing board“

Der frühere US-Präsident Donald Trump hatte, erklärtermaßen als Bestrafung Deutschlands, einen teilweisen Abzug der US-Truppen aus Deutschland angeordnet. Und sein damaliger Verteidigungsminister Mark Esper hatte schon die Pläne dafür vorgestellt. Unter dem neuen Präsidenten Joe Biden werden diese Pläne jetzt grundlegend überprüft – eigentlich wenig überraschend. Aber da’s heute prominent in den Nachrichten auftaucht, hier die Aussagen des US-Oberkommandierenden in Europa dazu.

Der Luftwaffengeneral Tod Wolters ist, in Doppelfunktion, sowohl Kommandeur des U.S. European Command als auch der militärische Oberbefehlshaber der NATO (Supreme Allied Commander Europe, SACEUR). In einer Telefon-Pressekonferenz am (gestrigen) Mittwoch wurde er auch mehrfach nach den Plänen für den Truppenabzug aus Deutschland gefragt. (Interessant übrigens, seine aktuellen Aussagen mal mit denen abzugleichen, die er im Juli vergangenen Jahres bei der Vorstellung von Espers Plänen gemacht hat…)

Zur Dokumentation Wolters‘ Antworten im Wortlaut, nach dem Transkript des US-Außenministeriums, das diese Pressekonferenz organisierte:

Question: Yes, thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity. General, last summer U.S. laid out plans to reposition – reposition around 11,000 troops from Germany, and to partially relocate them inside the NATO European area. With the new administration in Washington and Congress effectively putting these plans on hold, where do you see them heading, and how much – and how advanced are your plans at this stage? Thank you.

General Wolters: Thomas, I anticipated that question and as you can well imagine with the change in administrations, there is a lot of consultations ongoing. The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, is at this moment in the process of conducting a very, very thorough review, and he will receive advice of both civilian and military leadership, and once he actually is allowed to collate all that advice he’ll ultimately embrace our U.S. President and the White House and deliver us a decision. Don’t know what that’ll be, and as you well know, Thomas, I’m a smart military member so I want to make sure that I give my senior civilian leadership the appropriate maneuvering space to make the decision that they need to make so that we can collectively go forward in the future. Thank you. (…)

Question: Hi, General, thank you very much for doing this, and forgive me for asking again about the withdrawal or the drawdown, but if I could try just asking a question that my colleague hinted at a little bit. Can you talk about how far planning got or how far along the order actually was for these specific movements? You know better than us, the headquarters movement to Belgium; the Air Force squadron to Italy; the 2nd Cav back to the U.S. Can you talk at all about how far that got, how far the planning was, has it been stopped? Can you give us any details on that? Thank you.

General Wolters: The previous planning that was ongoing for the previous initiative has been put on freeze so that – so that our Secretary of Defense and this administration could conduct a thorough review of everything that has transpired up to the point where Secretary Austin took charge. And there were so many pieces and parts to the plan, we could probably sit here for weeks and guess on the depth and how far along we were. But in all those cases, there were branches and sequels with multiple options.
So I will just tell you that the new administration has comfortably stated to us that we need to conduct a thorough review, cradle to grave, in all areas, and then after they’re allowed to conduct that review we’ll go back to the drawing board. So I know you tried again to dig out a little bit more on that, but that’s where we stand. Thanks. (…)

Question: Thanks. Thanks for doing the call, General, and sorry to beat a dead horse here on the Germany question. But just one kind of – I wanted to get your big-picture outlook on it. Back in July, when this was announced, you had said that the plan to send 2nd Cav and rearrange things in Europe basically would strengthen the military’s ability to deter aggression in Europe, on the continent, and that it was, in a nutshell, superior to the current posture. Are you still of that view, and if so, could you kind of elaborate on why you thought that plan was sort of advantageous? Thanks.

General Wolters: At the time, based off the guidance given, those options that were addressed in the public domain were the ones that we thought most clearly addressed the advantages. What I will say that exists at this very moment is that every single one of those options, that they’re all on hold and they will all be re-examined from cradle to grave. And the purpose in doing so is to make sure that you have a comprehensive look at all of the options, from A to Z, and you take a strategic and operational examination of each and every one of those impacts on the larger deterrence and security picture. And that’s exactly what’s going to take place, and that’s exactly what our new U.S. Secretary of Defense needs to ensure that we can continue to do the things that we need to do in Europe to generate more peace.
So, John, thanks again for the question.

(Archivbild: U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Gallo, commander assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, stands in front of his formation during the deployment ceremony in support of enhanced Forward Presence in Vilseck, Germany, Jan. 8, 2020 – U.S. Army photo by Sgt. LaShic Patterson)