Miller said the withdrawal, which is able to leave roughly 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and roughly the identical number in Iraq, “does not equate change” to US insurance policies or aims but offered no details in regards to the plan and refused to reply questions following Tuesday’s appearance 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 said the announcement is “consistent” with what President Donald Trump has publicly introduced earlier this year and is “consistent with his promise to the American People.”
But while the Pentagon seems prepared to remove hundreds more US troops from the Middle East, the move also suggests that Trump might fall brief of fulfilling one of his core guarantees to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before he leaves workplace.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, slammed the move as “a mistake” in a assertion 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 said.
“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 at some point after CNN reported US army commanders had been anticipating that a formal order could be given by Trump to begin a 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 refer to Trump by name but voiced his clear opposition to a fast withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, saying it might “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 said 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 said. “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.”
A sequence of sweeping modifications on the Pentagon last week that began with the firing of Defense Secretary of Mark Esper saw Trump loyalists put in in influential positions. Knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week that the White House-directed purge on the Defense Department might have been motivated by the truth that Esper and his group had been pushing back on a untimely withdrawal from Afghanistan, which might be carried out before the required conditions on the bottom had been met.
The senior protection official claimed that “there is no reduction in capability” as a result of the drawdown, calling the discount a “collaborative” decision while refusing to tackle a recent Pentagon memo that said conditions on the bottom in Afghanistan didn’t warrant additional drawdowns.
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 — acknowledged that the mandatory conditions had not been met. Others agreed, sources have told CNN.
“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 said, referring to the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency.
This story is breaking and shall be up to date.
CNN’s Jake Tapper contributed to this report.