The German government Wednesday said it has received official confirmation from the U.S. of plans to reduce the number of American forces in Germany.
German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters in Berlin the government had been informed the U.S. is considering reducing its forces in Germany but said there is no final decision. There has been no U.S. confirmation.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal newspaper first reported that U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to pull some 9,500 of about 34,500 U.S. troops from Germany.
Earlier this week, Germany's defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, suggested that plan could weaken not only the NATO alliance but the U.S. itself.
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, confirmed to The Associated Press that there were plans to move troops, saying some could go to Poland while others could go elsewhere. Poland had expressed interest in having some of the troops stationed there.
But some former U.S. military officials have strongly criticized the idea. Retired U.S. Army European commander general Ben Hodges called the move "a colossal mistake" in media interviews and on his Twitter feed this week. He said troops are not in Germany to defend Germans, but to help stabilize NATO. He said Poland would be better served with a stable NATO than U.S. troops stationed there.
Hodges told the New York Times the move does not "seem attached to any kind of strategy."
The White House official told AP the decision is part of the president's and Department of Defense's effort to review combatant commands around the globe.