Have you ever heard the expression “Even a broken clock is correct at least twice a day?” Well… that’s kind of how I was feeling yesterday when I heard the news that Donald Trump plans to move about 12,000 troops out of Germany.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the idea of him reducing the number of troops here in Deutschland. I think it’s a petty and short-sighted plan, and I kind of hope it goes down in flames, along with his bid for re-election. But I must admit I was a little bit tickled to hear the news yesterday. As I read about the people who would most be affected by this plan, I realized that Stuttgart is going to be the most affected of all of the areas in Germany.
European Command (EUCOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM) are both outfits that Bill has worked for in the past. They are both located in Stuttgart, and they employ thousands of American people. If those two commands are moved out of Stuttgart, that will mean that there will be significantly fewer American military folks and civilians in Stuttgart. The military folks who are based there with the remaining tenants will probably almost all end up living on the installations, and the number of civilians who are ineligible to live on the installations, but need a place to live, will be in shorter supply.
Stuttgart has four local installations, one of which is entirely used for housing. So moving EUCOM and AFRICOM would mean that most people who are in the military, working in Stuttgart, will not need to rent accommodations on the economy. What few American civilians remain will be in far shorter supply than usual, and that will mean they’ll probably rent places closer to their workplaces, and more will be available to them, because of the decreased demand. It could mean rental prices will be forced down, and many fewer landlords will have the opportunity to blatantly rip off “ignorant Americans” of their deposits when they move out of their rental properties. I understand that practice among some landlords is at an epidemic level down there.
Now… this plan of Trump’s is hardly engraved in stone. Whether or not it happens as he envisions it will depend on if he’s re-elected and if he literally survives after he’s re-elected, as more and more government representatives are testing positive for COVID-19 and telling their staffers about it in person. It’s also going to be very expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome undertaking to initiate this plan. Housing and other infrastructure will have to be constructed in the areas in which he wants to move troops. Italy and Belgium, by the way, pay even less toward their own defense than Germany does, so his complaints about Germany not paying its share of defense expenses, while basically true, are kind of based in bullshit. Is he going to demand that Italy and Belgium pay up, too? I doubt it. I think Trump is simply holding a grudge, and/or doing Putin’s bidding. I also doubt either Italy or Belgium is especially interested in having more Americans living there.
Germans seem less interested in seeing Americans leave. It’s true… we’ve been here a long time and we pump money into the economy and add security against Russia (although Trump is awfully cozy with Putin). The infrastructure is already here and we already have a longstanding relationship with Germans.
Our landlord has approached Bill on multiple occasions, wanting to know what our plans are. In fact, when we went to Poland a few months ago, he thought we were going there to house hunt. Nope… it was just for a conference and I tagged along because it was our wedding anniversary. I wouldn’t be averse to living in Poland, Italy, Belgium, or Spain, but I like Germany very much, and I’m not particularly hoping for a move anytime soon. At the very least, I’d like to stay out of the United States because I don’t wish to catch the coronavirus.
Besides… these things take time, especially when the world is ever changing. I know that RAF Mildenhall in England, which is where my father did his last assignment in the 1970s, has been slated for closure since 2015. It was supposed to shut down in 2020. Then they pushed it to 2023. Guess what. It’s still up and running. At this point, they’re predicting it will close in 2027. I won’t hold my breath.
Fortunately, it appears that not only is Bill doing good work in Wiesbaden, but none of the groups based in Wiesbaden were mentioned as areas where troops would be cut. So our current landlord, at least for now, can rest easy. Stuttgart area landlords who especially prefer renting to Americans, however, might soon have some cause for concern, especially since some of the moves may be happening within the coming weeks. Some of them might want to re-evaluate the way they do business or, perhaps, get out of the business of renting to “cash cow” Americans affiliated with the military for good. I know of at least one person who should really consider that option.