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US announces further drawdown of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq before Biden takes office


Miller stated the withdrawal, which can depart roughly 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and roughly the identical quantity in Iraq, “does not equate change” to US insurance policies or aims however supplied no particulars concerning the plan and refused to reply questions following Tuesday’s look within the Pentagon briefing room.

Currently there are roughly 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan and three,000 troops in Iraq.

A senior protection official stated the announcement is “consistent” with what President Donald Trump has publicly introduced earlier this yr and is “consistent with his promise to the American People.”

But whereas the Pentagon seems able to take away 1000’s extra US troops from the Middle East, the transfer additionally means that Trump could fall in need of fulfilling certainly one of his core guarantees to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan earlier than he leaves workplace.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, the highest Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, slammed the transfer as “a mistake” in a press release issued shortly after Miller’s announcement.

“I believe that these additional reductions of American troops from terrorist areas are a mistake. Further reductions in Afghanistan will also undercut negotiations there; the Taliban has done nothing — met no condition — that would justify this cut,” he stated.

“As long as there are threats to Americans and American national security in the world, the U.S. must be vigilant, strong, and engaged in order to safeguard our people and fulfill our duty under the Constitution,” Thornberry added.

Miller’s announcement comes in the future after CNN reported US army commanders have been anticipating {that a} formal order can be given by Trump to start an additional withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The information prompted criticism from a number of GOP lawmakers, together with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who didn’t confer with Trump by title however voiced his clear opposition to a speedy withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, saying it could “hurt our allies.”

“We’re playing a limited — limited — but important role in defending American national security and American interests against terrorists who would like nothing more than for the most powerful force for good in the world to simply pick up our ball and go home,” he stated in a speech from the Senate ground on Monday.

“There’s no American who does not wish the war in Afghanistan against terrorists and their enablers had already been conclusively won,” he stated. “But that does not change the actual choice before us now. A rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight — delight — the people who wish us harm.”

Esper memo warned conditions weren't met for withdrawal from Afghanistan

A collection of sweeping modifications on the Pentagon final week that began with the firing of Defense Secretary of Mark Esper noticed Trump loyalists put in in influential positions. Knowledgeable sources instructed CNN’s Jake Tapper final week that the White House-directed purge on the Defense Department could have been motivated by the truth that Esper and his group have been pushing again on a untimely withdrawal from Afghanistan, which might be carried out earlier than the required situations on the bottom have been met.

The senior protection official claimed that “there is no reduction in capability” on account of the drawdown, calling the discount a “collaborative” resolution whereas refusing to deal with a latest Pentagon memo that stated situations on the bottom in Afghanistan didn’t warrant extra drawdowns.

Prior to his firing, Esper sent a classified memo to the White House asserting that it was the unanimous advice of the chain of command that the US not draw down its troop presence in Afghanistan any additional till situations have been met, sources accustomed to the memo inform CNN.

The evaluation from the chain of command — Esper, US Central Command chief Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie and commander of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan Gen. Austin Miller — said that the required situations had not been met. Others agreed, sources have instructed CNN.

Earlier on Tuesday, a newly released report from the Pentagon inspector normal stated the terrorist group al Qaeda is supportive of the Trump administration’s plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan as effectively the US settlement with the Taliban, including that the Taliban carried out assaults on US and coalition personnel because it was signed.

“The DIA reported that al-Qaeda leaders support the agreement because it does not require the Taliban to publicly renounce al-Qaeda and the deal includes a timeline for the United States and coalition forces to withdraw—accomplishing one of al-Qaeda’s main goals,” the report stated, referring to the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency.

This story is breaking and will probably be up to date.

CNN’s Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

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