Shafaq News/ President Donald Trump will sharply reduce the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 before he leaves office, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday, stopping short of the complete withdrawal Trump threatened to carry out by Christmas.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who Trump installed last week after firing Mark Esper, confirmed the drawdown and also outlined a modest withdrawal of forces in Iraq that will reduce troop levels there from 3,000 to 2,500. Reuters stated.
“By Jan. 15, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan, will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same date,” Miller said, without taking questions from reporters.
“This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives, supported by the American people, and does not equate to a change in U.S. policy or objectives.”
Moments later, the top Republican in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, warned against any major changes in U.S. defense or foreign policy in the next couple of months - including major troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
U.S. and Afghan officials are warning of troubling levels of violence by Taliban insurgents and persistent Taliban links to al Qaeda.