Pentagon to cut troop levels to 2,500 in Afghanistan, Iraq

Pentagon to cut troop levels to 2,500 in Afghanistan, Iraq

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The Pentagon is lowering troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 by Jan. 15, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller stated Tuesday, a relocation that the Trump administration has actually signified for months.

The choice to draw down soldiers to those levels in Afghanistan, which was at first revealed last month by nationwide security advisor Robert O’Brien, comes in spite of current remarks from senior military authorities that conditions on the ground do not call for such a relocation.

In a short address to journalism, Miller did not supply specifics for the factors behind the relocation, however stated it represented “the next phase of our campaign to defeat terrorists who perpetrated attacks on our homeland” and “to prevent future acts of terrorism against our nation.”

“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,” Miller, who did not take concerns, stated.

There are presently 4,500 to 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and more than 3,000 in Iraq, according to defense authorities.

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Shortly after Miller’s statement, O’Brien broadened on the function that the staying forces in Iraq and Afghanistan will handle.

“Those troops will defend our embassies and the other agencies of the U.S. government doing important work in those countries,” he stated.

“By May, it is President Trump’s hope that they will all come home safely, and in their entirety,” O’Brien included.

The statement came days after the president set up a number of followers in leading functions in the Defense Department after authorities resigned following the unceremonious ouster of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Nov. 9.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, slammed the prepared troop drawdown.

“At a time when our adversaries are looking for every opportunity to exploit our weaknesses, the administration should reconsider and reverse this politically-motivated decision and avoid worsening our national security challenges,” he stated in a declaration.

The relocation still stops brief of Trump’s promise to end America’s longest war. Just last month, the president tweeted that he wished to take out all staying soldiers in Afghanistan by Christmas.

The U.S. exit from Afghanistan was set out in a peace contract made with the Taliban in February. Under the offer, Washington consented to withdraw American soldiers by May 2021 in return for the Taliban renouncing terrorism and consenting to direct peace talks with their enemies in the Afghan federal government.

But in an interview with NBC News in September, Gen. Frank McKenzie, leader of the U.S. Central Command, stated the Taliban had actually not been promoting their end of the contract.

“The Taliban has actually been meticulous about not assaulting U.S. or union forces in Afghanistan,” McKenzie stated. “They have, however, continued to attack government security forces at a fairly high rate. And that’s very concerning.”

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed NPR in October that the strategy was to draw down soldiers in Afghanistan to 4,500 by November.

“It’s a conditions-based strategy,” he stated, including that the U.S. is continuing to keep track of the conditions.

The next day, the representative for U.S. Forces Afghanistan said on Twitter that the U.S. has actually carried out “a number of targeted strikes in Helmand to safeguard ANDSF forces under attack by Taliban fighters.”

Gen. Scott Miller, the commanding basic, wrote: “The Taliban require to right away stop their offending actions in Helmand Province and decrease their violence around the nation. It is not constant with the United States-Taliban contract and weakens the continuous Afghan Peace talks.”

The United States has actually remained in Afghanistan for 19 years, making it America’s longest war.

Ahead of Miller’s statement, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg alerted Tuesday that the military company might pay a heavy rate for leaving the nation too early.

“We now face a difficult decision. We have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and no NATO ally wants to stay any longer than necessary. But at the same time, the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high,” Stoltenberg stated in a declaration.

U.S. soldiers attacked Iraq in 2003 and left in 2011, however returned in 2014 after the Islamic State militant group overran big parts of the nation.

Iran and pro-Iranian groups in Iraq will likely likewise commemorate the news of a more drawdown of U.S. soldiers, as they have actually likewise consistently required American soldiers to leave Iraq.

The Associated Press added to this report.

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