It is not clear why these steps were decided at this time. Were they based on political, military or financial reasons? European and American critics have charged that the moves could weaken NATO and undermine US allies’ trust in its commitment to the principle of mutual defense, which underpins the North Atlantic alliance. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper deflected such criticism by saying that the troop redeployment would strengthen NATO, enhance deterrence and reassure allies.

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