Right after the Second World War, the Allied powers decided to keep their forces in Germany. The Allies asserted governmental authority and controlled Germany by splitting it into four occupation zones (American, British, French, and Soviet). The occupation was later ratified at the Potsdam Conference. Ultimately, Germany became a smaller nation, especially when Poland's borders were moved westward, back to approximately as they were before 1722.
After two months in which American forces had held areas that had been assigned to the Soviet zone, American forces withdrew in the first days of July 1945. Some scholars believe that the western Allies did not want to agitate the Soviets and allowed them to take control of this territory.
Nazi Germany became so immense due to the overall geo-political strategies implemented by Adolf Hitler that all of the territories annexed by Germany during the war were eventually given back to the nations that they belonged to.
The American zone was made up of mainly southern German territory. Some northern territories were also placed under American control because of the American request to have certain toeholds there. Frankfurt am Main was where the American military government was headquartered.
From 1945 up until the early 1990s, the U.S. kept immense amounts of forces in Germany. In addition, the U.S. military later expanded their military presence throughout Europe. This was mainly due to the threat from the Soviet Union and its ambitions to absorb more of Eastern and Central Europe.
Over time, the U.S. military has opened up military facilities in nations such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Many believe that this strategy was used to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The only issue that confuses many people is the fact that the Soviet Union already collapsed. Does the U.S. really need such a large amount of troops and facilities in Europe? Is the cost in terms of dollars really worth the cost to defend these European nations?
This topic has created an immense debate over the past several years. Many libertarians believe that the U.S. should completely withdraw from Europe. They feel that there is no need to protect these nations anymore. Furthermore, it is not worth the cost in terms of money spent by the U.S. taxpayer.
On the other hand, other politicians and military strategists completely disagree with this approach. These individuals feel that a strong NATO will deter the Russian Federation from gaining more power in Eastern Europe. They also believe that nations such as Germany must hold more U.S. forces than other European nations because Germany is the heart of NATO. Although NATO's headquarters is stationed in Belgium, its operational center is still in Germany.
American forces stationed in Europe tend to play a major role in European economies (especially Germany’s) as well. The German economy is much stronger today than it was in the past. American troops in the country represent a huge influx of capital. This is derived from both the soldiers themselves as well as from the German businesses which supply them and benefit from their presence.
Lastly, many military experts believe that NATO as a whole reduces the chance of another war breaking out in Europe. Many European nations have absolutely nothing in common. These nations fought each other for decades, causing million upon millions of casualties. What would make someone believe that another war between two given European nations couldn't occur again?
In total, the U.S. government spends about $4 billion a year to base soldiers in Germany. The total cost to house U.S. troops in all of Europe is probably close to $8 billion a year. Many believe that this strategy will enable European nations to receive valuable military training from the U.S. as well as purchase state-of-the-art military upgrades from American-based defense contractors. In theory, this will allow European nations to be rapidly deployed during an international crisis. This strategy has worked well, especially with the adaptation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
In recent years, there have been rumors about the U.S. moving its forces into Eastern European nations (primarily Poland). Recently, the Polish government asked Germany to deploy forces into their nation to offset the expansion of Russia's involvement in Ukraine. This was a fascinating development due to the fact that both Germany and Poland have had limited cooperation since the end of World War II (German was banned in Poland until the end of the 1980s).
American forces in Europe have been deployed on the continent for decades now. Many individuals overwhelmingly feel that American involvement in European affairs is beneficial to both the U.S. and Europe. Some military experts believe that a withdrawal of American forces from the region will be disastrous. Russia will only become more powerful, enabling the Russian government to take advantage of weaker Eastern European nations (including Scandinavia). In addition, Europe as a whole would have an increased chance of military conflict amongst themselves. One must remember, after both World War I and World War II no major military conflicts in Europe occurred, and if they did they were suppressed by NATO.
This debate will continue to go on into the future. Many individuals that continue to state that American forces should leave Europe, simply do not see Russia as a threat or just do not understand the basics of how the petrodollar system and the military-industrial complex work hand-in-hand. The only way that an American withdrawal from Europe would occur is when Russia becomes a non-existent threat or these European nations unite by themselves and form their own united military alliance which would have a behemoth sized military.
This event already happened in the past (after World War I) when European nations already fought the worst war that was ever seen to humanity. Many European economists and military planners believed that Europe would never have a conflict again. Moreover, they stated that Europe was united, and sanctions against certain nations were a magnificent strategy to eliminate future wars. Unfortunately, that theory miserably failed and that is why thousands of U.S. troops are still stationed on that continent today.