President Trump is ordering the Pentagon to pull thousands of troops from Germany—a move that drew criticism and some speculation that it's just a tit-for-tat with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Guardian reports. The order will remove almost 9,500 troops and reduce the US troop presence there to 25,000. A top US military officer said the move was months in the making and unrelated to Merkel thwarting Trump's attempt to host a G7 meeting this month. But tell that to members of Merkel's ruling conservative bloc: "The Pentagon has not yet publicly commented and has instead redirected press inquiries to the White House—this indicates that the decision is purely politically motivated and not made by experts," one of them tells Deutsche Welle.
Others say the move will damage Trump's relationship with Germany, Europe's most powerful nation, and boost anti-American sentiment there. "Russia has done nothing to lower its threat to our allies," a retired US Army general tells the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story. "Germany is the most important ally we have in Europe. This looks like punishment somehow." But a senior US official says the order reflects Trump's frustration with Germany in other ways—like its level of military spending (not yet the NATO goal of 2%) and decision to finish a gas pipeline with Russia under the Baltic Sea. Some of the US troops will apparently go to Poland or other American allies, while the rest will come home. (Read more Pentagon stories.)