Trump to cut troop levels in Afghanistan but stops short of full withdrawal

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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. Trump's decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday and has triggered warnings from critics who say it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taliban.

Reuters November 18, 2020 02:10:44 IST
Trump to cut troop levels in Afghanistan but stops short of full withdrawal

Trump to cut troop levels in Afghanistan but stops short of full withdrawal

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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.

Trump's decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday and has triggered warnings from critics who say it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taliban.

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.

"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.

It was those ties that triggered U.S. military intervention in 2001 following the al Qaeda Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Thousands of American and allied troops have died in fighting in Afghanistan since then.

Some U.S. military officials had been urging Trump to keep U.S. troop levels at around 4,500 for now.

The withdrawal stops short of his pledge on Oct. 7, when Trump said on Twitter https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1313984510749544450?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1313984510749544450%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnbc.com%2F2020%2F10%2F08%2Ftrump-says-us-troops-in-afghanistan-should-be-home-by-christmas.html: "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!"

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Howard Goller)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

IAEA and U.S. pressure Iran over uranium particles at 'atomic warehouse'
World

IAEA and U.S. pressure Iran over uranium particles at 'atomic warehouse'

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog and the United States pressured Iran on Wednesday to finally explain the origin of uranium particles found almost two years ago at an old but undeclared site that Israel has called a "secret atomic warehouse". Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew attention to the Turqazabad site in Tehran in a speech to the United Nations in September 2018, urging the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit it

Sri Lanka's Gotabaya says has reassembled nation's intelligence network
World

Sri Lanka's Gotabaya says has reassembled nation's intelligence network

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Wednesday he had delivered on a key election promise to rebuild the island nation's intelligence network in the year since assuming office.

Pole and Chinese citizen indicted in Warsaw for spying
World

Pole and Chinese citizen indicted in Warsaw for spying

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish authorities said on Wednesday a former secret service agent and a Chinese citizen who worked for a telecommunications company have been charged with spying for China. Reuters previously reported on the allegations against an employee of Huawei and a former Polish domestic intelligence operative who were being investigated by the Warsaw government for suspected espionage