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:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.