21:59 GMT24 February 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the United States is halting any planned removal of forces from Germany.

    US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier told reporters that Biden was set to announce a freeze on US troop redeployments in Germany and a halt of US support for offensive operations in Yemen., during his first foreign policy speech on Thursday.

    “Defense Secretary [Lloyd] Austin will be leading a global posture review of our forces so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities... While this review is taking place, we’ll be stopping any planned troop withdrawal from Germany,” Biden said during his first foreign policy speech.

    In July, then-US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced plans to reduce its forces from Germany by some 12,000 troops. most of whom — 6,400 people — will return home, while about 5,600 servicemen would remain in Europe, in particular, to be relocated to Belgium and Italy. The move would reduce the number of troops stationed in Germany from 36,000 to 24,000.

    Some analysts saw the Trump administration move as being in response to Berlin failing to allocate 2 percent of its budget for defense as per NATO regulations. Since the beginning of his presidency in 2016, Trump had been persistently urging NATO member states to increase their defense budgets up to that level.

    In December 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin was committed to fulfilling its obligations to host US forces in the country, noting, though, that he did not have any information about the then-alleged plans to pull out troops.

    Germany is of major strategic importance for the United States: the largest overseas American army base - US Army Bavaria Garrison - is located in the western part of the country, close to the Czech border. Other major bases include Ramstein Air Base, a logistics base for operations in the Middle East, and the US Army Garrison Stuttgart, which coordinates US operations in Africa.

    In addition to that, about 150 American B-61 nuclear gravity bombs are reportedly located in five NATO member states - Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey. 20 nuclear weapons are believed to be kept in Germany, within the framework of NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement. None of the NATO allies have officially confirmed the presence of these weapons in their countries.

    Germany, US
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