US troops are packing up, ready or not

US troops are packing up, ready or not

Afghan officials downplayed the U.S. troop cut, which would leave about 2,500 American service members in Afghanistan after January 15. The US troop presence in Afghanistan would be cut by about half, also to 2,500, no later than January 15 - just five days before Trump is scheduled to leave office.

US President Donald Trump is expected to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan from around 5,000 to 2,500 by the time President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

Some members of Congress, including Republicans, have argued that the move is unwise or premature.

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who Trump installed last week after abruptly firing Mark Esper, confirmed the Afghan drawdown and also outlined a modest withdrawal of forces from Iraq to reduce troop levels from 3,000 to 2,500.

He said there were now fewer than 12,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation soldiers in Afghanistan, "and more than half of these are non-US forces".

"We remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaeda brought to our shores in 2001", he said, adding that "we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish". "By May it is President Trump's hope that they'll all come home safely and in their entirety", O'Brien said.

National security adviser Robert O'Brien discussed the drawdown from the White House driveway shortly after the Pentagon announcement, but like Miller he did not take any questions from journalists about the decision. "After this retreat, there will still be American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan". Top Democratic lawmakers, however, were quick to slam it.

Senator Tammy Duckworth said that this is the wrong way to do, as it will leave behind a huge amount of American military hardware for the Taliban to use.

"It is extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earthshaking changes in regard to defense or foreign policy", McConnell, who opposed a pullout, told reporters.

"There's a good chance that Biden will certainly support the intra-Afghan dialogue, but he will want to ensure that the whole process doesn't play out on the Taliban's terms, as it has to this point under Trump", Kugelman added, while warning that the Taliban could dump the peace process if it doesn't face a strong military adversary to apply pressure.

"We are particularly concerned over what the U.S. announcement could mean for the continuation of peace talks in Afghanistan", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Esper had reduced US forces from about 13,000 following the February 29 peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban insurgents.

Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that he looks forward to receiving detailed briefings on the plan from the Pentagon and the commander on the ground. He has said that some troops could stay in Afghanistan to focus on the counter-terrorism mission.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that the announcement is a hasty move meant to undermine the incoming Biden administration.

Miller last week replaced former Defense Secretary Mark Esper who was sacked by Trump.

President Trump has prioritized negotiations for the release of Americans held captive overseas and claims to have secured freedom for more than 50 from some 20 countries during his time in office.

But Miller also made it clear that "all wars must end".

There are now about 4,500 US troops in the country. Further, we can not leave North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and our partners in the dark.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy for Afghan reconciliation, said in May that he had pressed Taliban leaders during meetings to secure Frerichs's release.

"The war in Afghanistan must end". "The costs of the war in Afghanistan continue to mount, and they are borne disproportionately by working Americans".

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