BERLIN â€”Â The U.S. will step up its military presence in Germany by 500 soldiers, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.
Speaking during a trip to Berlin where he met with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Austin said that strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Germany was a â€œtop priority for the Biden/Harris administration.â€
He said he â€œhad a productive dialogue on a number of security issuesâ€ with Kramp-Karrenbauer, insisting that it was â€œgood for the United States and good for NATOâ€ to have a U.S. military presence in Germany, which he called one of Washingtonâ€™s â€œstaunchest allies.â€
â€œIn keeping with my pledge to consult with allies and partners today, I briefed the minister on our intention to permanently station approximately 500 additional U.S. personnel in the Wiesbaden area as early as this fall,â€ Austin said.
The secretary also lauded Berlinâ€™s upcoming naval deployment to the Indo-Pacific region, calling it a â€œtangible sign of Germanyâ€™s commitment to project stability and uphold a rules-based international order.â€
Earlier this year, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that Washington was reversing his predecessor Donald Trumpâ€™s decision to withdraw up to 12,000 troops from Germany.
During his presidency, Trump often complained about what he considered Germanyâ€™s insufficient ambitions to increase defense spending, once going as far as calling the country â€œdelinquent.â€
Austin, in contrast, thanked Kramp-Karrenbauer for stepping up Germanyâ€™s commitment to spending more on defense.
Germanyâ€™s relief at the change in tune from Washington was palpable on Tuesday.
â€œIt is, of course, wonderful news that the U.S. has not only â€¦ distanced itself from plans to withdraw American troops from Germany, but that, on the contrary, these troops here in Germany will be strengthened by 500 additional forces,â€ Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
â€œWith its presence in Europe and here in Germany, and with its commitment to NATO, the U.S. is and will remain a crucial pillar on which our peace here at home is based,â€ she added.