German, U.S. Defense Leaders Talk Shop at Pentagon

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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen met at the Pentagon to confer about a wide range of issues critical to the defense relationship between the two allies.

Shanahan expressed appreciation for Germany’s role as host to the largest U.S. force presence in Europe, which he said is critical to supporting U.S. worldwide operations.

The military-to-military relationship between the United States and Germany is one of the strongest in Europe. Here’s why:

  • Germany hosts the largest U.S. force presence in Europe and the second-largest U.S. overseas presence in the world. Japan has the largest.
  • Germany is the second-highest troop contributor to NATO operations, and serves as a framework nation in Afghanistan and the alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence activity in Lithuania.
  • The U.S. has a robust military personnel exchange program with Germany, in which German military personnel embed in U.S. units, and vice versa. Notably, the chief of staff to the commander of U.S. Army Europe is a German officer.
  • In 2019, Germany commenced a two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council, and is currently the chair of the council. Germany contributes to U.N. peacekeeping operations, including the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali and the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.
  • The United States and Germany are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift this year. From June 24, 1948, to May 12, 1949, U.S., British, French, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African aircrews flew more than 200,000 sorties, providing West Berliners up to nearly 13,000 tons of necessities such as fuel and food in a day.

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