US to slash troop levels in Afghanistan, Iraq - GulfToday

US to slash troop levels in Afghanistan, Iraq


A US Marine (C) talks with Afghan National Army soldiers during a training in Helmand province, Afghanistan. File/Reuters

Gulf Today Report

President Donald Trump pledged to end conflicts abroad as the US will slash troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to their lowest levels in nearly 20 years of war, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

Trump will sharply reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January, stopping short of a threatened full withdrawal from America’s longest war after fierce opposition from allies at home and abroad, the Pentagon announced.


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Trump’s decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday but still triggered a rebuke from senior Republicans and Democrats who fear it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taliban.

Rejecting concerns that precipitous drawdowns could give up all the US has fought for, Acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller said around 2,000 troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan by January 15.

About the same time, the top Senate Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, cautioned against any major changes in US defence or foreign policy in the next couple of months, including any precipitous troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

US President Donald Trump attends an event. File photo

“It is extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earthshaking changes in regard to defence or foreign policy,” McConnell, who opposed a pullout, told reporters.

President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed in a tweet that Ghani and Miller had spoken on the phone about "continued meaningful US military support to the Afghan Security and Defence Forces".

Five hundred more would come back from Iraq by the same date, leaving 2,500 in each country.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani poses for a photograph.

The moves reflect Trump's policy "to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home," Miller said.

Miller said the US had met its goals, set in 2001 after the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States, to defeat extremists and to help "local partners and allies to take the lead in the fight."

"With the blessings of Providence in the coming year, we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home," he said.

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