America’s military presence in Germany remains fresh issue for both countries

As Germany votes this Sunday in a historic election to usher-in a new chancellor for the first time in 16 years, recent polling shows eligible voters are most concerned with campaign issues like the environment and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outcome of the vote will likely have a significant impact on Transatlantic relations, as Germany’s new government sets priorities based on the formation of a coalition of winning parties.

Participation in the NATO alliance often calls attention to the U.S. military in Germany, a regular source of debate candidates and voters.

Today, there are roughly 35 thousand American service members and personnel deployed at installations around Germany, having had a presence in the country since the end of World War II. Years of discussions over Germany’s defense spending came to a head in 2020, when former President Donald Trump announced intentions to draw down the number of soldiers in the country by 12 thousand. Those reductions were not carried out under the Biden administration.

In August, America’s best-known air base in Germany, Ramstein, returned to the international spotlight as a transit site for the massive airlift evacuations of more than 37 thousand people from Afghanistan. Currently, more than 10 thousand Afghans are still being temporarily housed in southern Germany. This week, immunizations resumed at Ramstein after concerns over cases of measles shut down the processing.

Ultimately, as many as 4,400 Afghans are expected to resettle in Texas, according to a State Department report. Once departing Germany, evacuees are being flown to facilities in the U.S., including Fort Bliss in El Paso.

In early September, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met at Ramstein to discuss how long Afghans can be housed in Germany and how to pay for asylum seekers, among other topics.

Many of Germany’s six leading political parties support strong ties with the U.S. However, in recent years, many platforms have included support for a joint European defense force. The Linke, or The Left party, however, does not support Germany’s participation in NATO.

After Sunday’s election, an expected combination of three parties, sometimes with differing views on issues like defense, will have to negotiate in order to form a government.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Gray Television. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2021 Lane Luckie

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