Democrats and Republicans take aim at Pompeo over US troop withdrawal from Germany

Democrats and Republicans take aim at Pompeo over US troop withdrawal from Germany

  • Secretary of state receives bipartisan grilling, and makes false claim to have fought along East German border as soldier in 1980s

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany has come under bipartisan attack in the Senate, amid warnings it would disrupt US alliances.

The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, fended off insistent questions in the Senate on Thursday, and in so doing, falsely claimed to have fought along the East German border when he was stationed there as an army lieutenant in the late 1980s. There was no fighting in Germany during the cold war.

The Pentagon has insisted the withdrawal was ordered as part as an overall strategic repositioning of US forces abroad, but Donald Trump made clear that he saw it as punishment of Germany for not spending enough on defence.

Pompeo said that the state department had been part of the discussion about the redeployment, which involves 6,400 soldiers being brought to the US and another 5,500 being placed elsewhere in Europe, mostly Belgium and Italy.

Questioning Pompeo at a hearing of the Senate foreign relations committee, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said: “The only country that has publicly supported the removal of US troops from Germany today has been Russia.”

The Republican senator Mitt Romney, reflecting widespread unease in the GOP about the move, told Pompeo: “I have heard from the highest levels of the German government that this is seen by them as an insult to Germany, and I can’t imagine at a time when we need to be drawing in our friends and allies so that we can collectively confront China, we want to insult them.”