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The US Army in Germany: Facts and Figures

For a long time the Federal Republic of Germany was a front-line state. After the end of the Second World War, it bordered directly on some of the communist-ruled states of Eastern Europe that were ruled by the Soviet Union at the time. After the defeat of the "Third Reich", Germany became an important part of the US defense strategy in Europe. In particular during the Allied occupation period after World War II, which lasted from 1945 to 1955, around 400,000 foreign soldiers were stationed in Germany, half of them Americans.

Although the number of troops has fallen drastically since then, the US military is still present in significant numbers despite the current dispute over the costs of stationing in Germany. A number of US military bases also continue to exist.

Today the strategic importance of Germany for the USA is reflected in the headquarters of the "US European Command" (EUCOM), located in the southwest of Stuttgart. It is the central coordination point for all American armed forces in 51 predominantly European countries.

It is the job of EUCOM to protect and defend the USA. This is done by the command center preventing conflicts as much as possible, but also acts as a deterrent in case of doubt. It also supports the joint defense alliance NATO and counteracts transnational threats. The US Army Europe, the US Air Forces in Europe and the US Marine Corps Forces Europe, all of which have branches in Germany, are under the command of EUCOM.

Important visit: US President Donald Trump at the Ramstein air base

Dimensions of a location

Overall, Germany is home to around 38,600 soldiers, most of the US troops in Europe. However, the numbers vary as troops are constantly being relocated to other countries. Nevertheless, after Japan, Germany is the country that has the largest contingents of the US military worldwide.

However, the numbers have declined in recent years. According to the federal government, the number of US troops stationed in Germany more than halved between 2006 and 2018 from 72,400 to 33,250. The reason for the decline is a changed global security situation, to which the US military has also reacted by deploying troops.

Marines, soldiers and air forces

According to figures released by the US military, the five garrisons currently number around 29,000 soldiers. This also includes the "US Marine Corps of Europe and Africa" ​​based in Böblingen in southwest Germany.

In addition, around 9,600 members of the US Air Force are present at the various locations in Germany, for example at the two US air force bases in Ramstein and Spangdahlem.

In training: Soldiers at the US base in Grafenwoehr

US military in Germany: more than just troops

American civilians as well as soldiers are employed in the US military facilities. In addition, many members of the army bring their families with them overseas. In this way, large civil communities are formed around the US bases. Some of them, such as the air base near Ramstein, have become small towns themselves. They not only include barracks, airfields, training grounds and material depots, but also their own shopping centers, schools, postal services and the police. The US dollar is the main legal tender.

The world's largest US Army base is also in Germany, namely the Bavaria Garrison near Grafenwöhr, near the border with the Czech Republic. With an area of ​​over 390 square kilometers, it towers over all other US bases. There are also more people living there than in any other US military facility, namely around 4,000 soldiers and their families.

Many locals also often work at the bases. The bases are an economic stimulus for the surrounding German communities, whose companies offer goods and services. When some bases were shut down, such as the army garrison in Bamberg in 2014, this had a significant impact on the local economy. For this reason, too, many Germans living in the vicinity of active US military facilities spoke out against a possible troop reduction.

Criticism of the bases

But the US does not station its planes on its own bases alone. A number of them are also on non-American air bases in Germany. In addition, on the basis of the military nuclear agreement of NATO, around 20 nuclear weapons are stationed at the German air force base in Büchel in West Germany - a fact that many Germans sharply criticize.

The fact that Ramstein Air Force Base is used as a control center for drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere is also controversial. That also upsets many Germans.

Germany's financial commitment

The federal government has provided around 243 million euros to support US troops stationed in the country over the past seven years. The total includes pension payments for former workers as well as expenses for the maintenance of buildings and land.

In addition, the federal government provided a further 480 million euros to cover NATO-related construction costs in Germany. They went "almost exclusively" to US Army properties, as the answer to a parliamentary response from the Treasury Department to the Left Party revealed.