Typically, plans involving the transport of a large number of soldiers are closely coordinated with the Pentagon to achieve an achievable goal. This time, however, despite the concerns that the Pentagon endangered America’s European-based defense against Russia, the special order to withdraw about 10,000 troops from Germany came from within the White House.
“The stocks are very high now,” one management official told CNN.
Since taking on the role of DNI last month, Grenell held multiple new positions inside and outside the administration, including a part-time job at the national security council within O’Brien. Returning to its time as the US Ambassador to Germany, Grenell has been a driving force behind the pressure to pull the troops there.
As Grenell returned to the White House last year, there is broad belief among the current national security officials that he and O’Brien are working to isolate Esper, according to three sources familiar with internal dynamics. Others refused to engage in politics, although he believed that Esper’s influence was greatly reduced.
On Thursday, Grenell pushed back the idea that he and O’Brien were actively trying to support Esper, who he said was present during a month-long debate about German withdrawals from Germany.
“He asked for a thoughtful process from President DoD,” Grenell told CNN. “At the time, the whole discussion was about how many people we set up about how some (troops) should go to Poland and how many we should bring home.”
However, as negotiations progressed, a major dispute arose over roughly how many of the 34,500 US troops would be withdrawn. Pentagon officials were willing to adjust their troop levels in Germany if the US did not harm its deterrence against Russia, while the President publicly described the withdrawal he ordered as punishment against Germany and claimed that funding to NATO had no fair share.
On Wednesday, Esper went to NATO, where the issue of potential withdrawal of US forces from Europe will inevitably come up.
“Secretary Esper met with President Trump to discuss our presence in Europe on Wednesday,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. Said. “On Monday, the Secretary will inform the President of the White House about the options for our strength stance in Germany.”
Grenell and O’Brien
Several sources say that O’Brien is trying to position Trump as the next Secretary of Defense so that he can win a second term, and Grenell accepts him as the next state secretary – something he does not accept or refuses to accept. On Tuesday, at the Phoenix Student Trump conference in Phoenix, Florida, Trump ally Matt Gaetz asked Grenell whether there would be a foreign minister under a second Trump administration. Grenell replied, “I don’t think I can answer that.”
According to a source who knows their relationship, O’Brien and Grenell have been in close contact with each other since the mid-2000s, when they worked at the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.
O’Brien saw Grenell as a loyal soldier to send to DNI, and at the same time felt that by appointing Grenell, a highly controversial figure, even among conservatives, they could open the way to quickly confirm who was nominated.
As the pair managed to gain favor with Trump, their maneuvers outraged some important allies, including the President’s President of the Senate Armed Services Committee Republican Scenario Jim Inhofe. About the plan to remove US troops from Germany.
“This is from O’Brien. He signed it. This is what I understand,” Oklahoma Republican told reporters on Wednesday.
“I am the last person to learn this,” he added. “I should have been the first one.”
Management sources told CNN that O’Brien encouraged the President’s increasingly negative view of Esper.
Trump and O’Brien have been losing faith in Esper for months, as previously told CNN, many management officials have previously pointed out the tendency to avoid fully defending the President or his policies.
According to multiple sources, Trump has specially expressed his disappointments with Esper, including prolonged air evacuation about him during his last weekend at Camp David.
O’Brien spoke to the President about Esper’s television talks, which the White House thought was problematic or without messages in various situations. In at least one example, O’Brien emphasized the contrast by providing the President with outputs that compare his own public statements on the issue to those of Esper.
Proximity proximity also played a role, a resource O’Brien noted close resource. With his office in West Wing, O’Brien made a one-minute statement at the Oval Office, while adding that Esper’s travel from the Pentagon after being summoned by Trump has occasionally watered the impatient President.
Trump said that O’Brien had no problems with Esper’s toes, and that he aimed to follow up with reporters in the White House on Monday with the advice of his national security adviser to deploy US troops stationed in Germany.
Trump repeated his stance at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Rose Garden on Wednesday. “We will probably move them from Germany to Poland,” said Trump, adding that he wants to increase US troops to 25,000. “Some will come home, some will go elsewhere, and Poland will be one of those places.”
Duda said that, although he favors moving troops to Poland, he opposes the reduction of the total US forces in Europe, and this will “be very detrimental to European security.”
Deeper tensions with the Pentagon
Trump’s disappointment with Esper is a sign of wider tension between the President and military leaders in the Pentagon.
Milley was so uncertain about her future that she consulted her close colleagues, including retired senior generals.
According to a large number of current and former officials, the tensions over how to react to the protests began to withdraw troops from Germany.
Defense officials were responsible for moving some forces from Germany in the past, while several US and NATO officials told CNN earlier this month the size and timing of the reduction was unexpected.
According to a management official, discussions about the removal of soldiers from Germany began in early autumn. When the idea was put into action, “mid-level” officials with the Ministry of Defense pushed back, instead seeking to increase the number of soldiers there.
In December, senior US officials attending the NATO summit in London received discussions, and Grenell raised the issue with Esper and emphasized the President’s interest in unity.
The Pentagon said it was working on “consistent with the President’s directive” options to significantly reduce the number of troops in Germany, but defense officials were caught off guard by Trump’s first request and largely excluded from the decision-making process. .
Now it is up to Esper, although Trump’s demand is logistically impossible and believes in something that NATO allies have been particularly opposed to.
“Mark Esper is aware of the physics of the problem,” one official said.
On the other hand, O’Brien defends the movement.
If successful, the move could mean signing for O’Brien, but some GOP lawmakers are not happy with it. The top Republican Republican Michael McCaul and Air Force veteran representative Adam Kinzinger on the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called on Trump not to reduce the number of troops in Germany this week, arguing that the move will negatively affect NATO’s ability to deter Russian aggression.
More than 20 Assembly Armed Service Committees, including President Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the panel, have reiterated that they asked the White House to review its plan earlier this month.
The two congressional assistants who are familiar with reaching the CNN said they did not expect the letters to be very successful in persuading Trump to change routes, unless Esper or Milley could somehow intervene.
For Inhofe, who remained a strong ally for Trump in Capitol Hill, the error lies in O’Brien, not Trump. “He has a passionate love for his troops, and he would not do anything to cause unbearable distress to the troops,” Inhofe said on Wednesday. Said.
“I just know this won’t have anything to start because you know him very well.”
CNN’s Kylie Atwood and Ryan Browne contributed to this report.