April 13 (UPI) -- The Pentagon will send hundreds of additional troops to Germany to improve the ability of the U.S. military to ramp up forces to defend allies, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday in a reversal of policy from former President Donald Trump.
The move will station about 500 U.S. additional troops in Germany while shifting some units to Belgium and Italy and bringing others back to the United States.
Austin said the additional troops could arrive in Germany as soon as this fall. He made the announcement after meeting with German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer during a visit in Berlin Tuesday.
"These forces will strengthen deterrence and defense in Europe. They will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict, and, if necessary, fight and win," Austin told reporters, according to Stars and Stripes.
The new troops will be based at the U.S. Army Europe and Africa headquarters in the Wiesbaden area of Germany, Austin said.
Trump announced last summer plans to withdraw more than 10,000 U.S. troops from Germany, where nearly 40,000 are stationed. President Joe Biden halted that plan and ordered the Pentagon to review how American forces are deployed worldwide.
Tuesday's announcement comes as Ukraine estimates that about 80,000 Russian troops are amassed on its border. Kiev says Russian President Vladimir Putin is ignoring requests by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the troop presence. The Kremlin has denied receiving any such requests.
After meeting with German leaders, Austin is scheduled to travel to Belgium for a visit with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before wrapping his overseas trip in Britain later this week. Austin met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday and Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz on Sunday.