Former President Donald Trump's orders to withdraw roughly 11,000 troops from Europe and relocate these presently primarily based in Germany – a transfer extensively seen as punitive towards German Chancellor Angela Merkel – "has been placed on freeze," the highest U.S. navy officer for operations there mentioned Wednesday. "Earlier planning that was ongoing for the earlier initiative has been placed on freeze," U.S. European Command chief Air Power Gen. Tod Wolters advised reporters Wednesday morning, talking by telephone from his headquarters. The large repositioning of the U.S. navy presence in Europe introduced final summer season was justified on the time by then-Protection Secretary Mark Esper and different Trump administration officers as an try and assessment whether or not some Chilly Struggle-era deployments may very well be adjusted to fulfill fashionable threats. The choice, nonetheless, was extensively panned as politically motivated following public spats between Trump and the German chief, whom the president reportedly as soon as referred to as "silly" and routinely criticized for permitting her nation to depend on Russian vitality assets. Esper repeatedly pushed again on these assertions, saying the choice adopted months of deliberations and got here at his behest, whilst Trump mentioned publicly he would take away troops from Germany "till they pay," referring to the two p.c of their very own gross home merchandise that NATO member international locations in 2014 agreed to spend on their very own protection by 2024. Uniformed navy officers, together with Wolters, stood by the strikes on the time, together with orders to relocate a number of navy headquarters from Germany to different international locations, together with Belgium. "This may enhance the pace and readability of our decision-making and promote better operational alignment," he mentioned in July. When requested concerning the obvious shift on Wednesday, Wolters demurred. "On the time, primarily based off the steerage given, these choices that have been addressed within the public area have been those we thought most clearly addressed the benefits," he mentioned. "Each single a kind of choices, they're all on maintain." The circumstances symbolize maybe the clearest instance of the unwieldy place profession navy officers typically discovered themselves in in the course of the Trump administration, torn between the navy chain of command and the sudden and infrequently scattershot decision-making that got here out of Trump's White Home. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, himself a retired four-star Military normal, tried to shore up that divide final week, saying all the troop actions Trump ordered have been into consideration. In a name together with his German counterpart, Protection Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Austin expressed his gratitude to Germany for its navy partnerships with the U.S., and mentioned he sought to "reinforce the worth america locations on the bilateral protection relationship with one in all our closest NATO allies," based on a Pentagon readout of the decision.