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US: Pentagon announces 11,900 troops to be moved from Germany | News



The United States has said it expects to move its European military headquarters out of Stuttgart, Germany to Belgium, as it announced broader plans to shift 12,000 troops out of Germany on orders from President Donald Trump.

Some 6,400 active US troops in Germany will be sent home while nearly 5,600 others will be moved to other NATO countries, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news conference on Wednesday. About 24,000 troops will remain in Germany, a country considered one of the US’s closest allies and trading partners since World War II.

Esper said that while the decision was “accelerated” by Trump’s previous calls to withdraw troops, which began in June, the moves also promote larger strategic goals to deter Russia, reassure European allies and shift forces further east into the Black Sea and Baltic regions.

Some military personnel could also go to Poland and the Baltic states if Warsaw follows through on an agreement already sketched out by the two sides, Esper said.

Trump has repeatedly said that Germany does not spend enough on defence. The withdrawal is also in line with the president’s “America first” platform and campaign pledges to wind down US involvement overseas.

Why is the US pulling out troops from Germany? I Inside Story

Esper on Wednesday said he would like some moves to start within a matter of weeks, but there are still consultations ahead.

“It’ll be a service responsibility to determine where they should go to enhance their readiness to make sure we have adequate housing and childcare and hospital care and all that for families,” Esper said.

Shift in headquarters

Germany is currently the centre of US military operations in Europe, as well as a hub for operations in Africa and the Middle East.

US officials said that the personnel shift would likely send air and ground forces to other countries that already have an American troop presence.

Speaking at the news conference, top General Tod Wolters, the US European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, said the Pentagon anticipates “with more refinement” to move the US European Command headquarters, as well as the US Special Operations Command Europe headquarters, from Germany to Belgium. 

Overall, the US currently has about 47,000 troops and civilian personnel in Germany, spread out across a number of bases, headquarters and smaller installations. 

Most of the 36,000 on active duty are in a handful of larger Army and Air Force bases including Ramstein Air Base, a hub in the region. 

There also are 2,600 National Guard and Reserve forces in Germany and almost 12,000 civilians working for the services or the Defense Department.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sits in a tank as he talks to US soldiers based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in November 2019. [File: Jens Meyer/Reuters]

While Pentagon officials on Wednesday sought to focus on the strategic motivation behind the moves, Trump doubled down on his criticism of Germany, saying the country had not paid its share of NATO defence costs. 

“Germany is delinquent; they’re at one percent, not two percent,” he told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday. “They’ve taken advantage of us for many years.”

Trump added he may rethink the decision “if they start paying their bills”.

‘Gift to Russia’

US opposition Democrats, as well as high-profile members of Trump’s own party, have pushed back against the withdrawal since the intention was first announced.

Twenty-two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee in June sent a letter to Trump saying a reduced US commitment to Europe’s defense would encourage Russian aggression and opportunism.

Meanwhile, the premiers of four German states that host US troops had appealed earlier in July to members of Congress to block Trump’s withdrawal.

After the plan was announced on Wednesday, Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican and frequent Trump critic, called the move a “gift to Russia”.

Trump’s desire to remove troops has also rankled European leaders, with the decision to keep nearly half the forces in Europe considered a clear move by the Pentagon to assuage their concerns.

On Wednesday, a senior member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, Norbert Roettgen, said of the plan: “Instead of strengthening NATO, the troop withdrawal will weaken the alliance.” 

“The effectiveness of the US military is not increased but reduced, especially with a view to Russia and ongoing military conflicts in the Middle East,” Roettgen, who is chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, added in comments to the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

The cost of the moves has not yet been calculated, Esper added.

“Clearly, the cost right now are estimates. It’ll take several billion dollars, I’d say single digits, but then that’ll be spread out over time,” he said.

US officials on Wednesday also stressed that only a relatively small number of advanced units would move anytime soon. The rest of the troop movements would take years to fully implement.

The elongated timeline means that the plan could still be reversed if Trump loses re-election in November.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden, if elected, will review the Republican incumbent’s decision to withdraw the troops from Germany, a top Biden aide told Reuters news agency earlier this month.

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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