Germany Expects Trump’s New Envoy to Execute Troop Withdrawal

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When Richard Grenell left his post as U.S. ambassador to Germany in February, government officials in Berlin were relieved.

But Donald Trump’s pick for the position, retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, has them wondering if the new envoy will be just as combative as his predecessor.

“It is indeed striking that Trump is sending a proven military strategist to Germany,” Peter Beyer, a senior lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Germany’s transatlantic coordinator, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

For Germany, the biggest question is how the White House plans to withdraw about a third of the 34.500 U.S. troops stationed there. Trump’s decision caught Merkel by surprise and her government is still waiting for details on how it will be managed. The U.S. president has said some of the troops will likely be moved to Germany’s eastern neighbor Poland.

Relations between Trump and Merkel have been strained.

“I suspect that Macgregor will come here with a clear mission” on how to implement what has been a politically sensitive matter, Beyer said.

A veteran of the first Iraq war, Macgregor is virtually unknown in Germany even though he is a fluent German speaker. Lawmakers and government officials ran Internet searches on his name Tuesday after the news was made public. They were alarmed by what they read.

A snap portrait in Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper described Macgregor as an “embittered war hero and glowing Trump supporter” who is fascinated with tanks and believes that Western Europe is governed by a “socialist elite.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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