President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to pull 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq by mid-January, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced on Tuesday.
The Defense Department will cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 and the number of forces in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500. The decision “comes at the recommendation” of Trump’s “senior-most military officials,” a senior defense official told reporters ahead of Miller’s announcement.about:blankabout:blank
The official would not say which senior military officials had conferred with the president and said it was a “collaborative decision.”
The drawdown order comes only a week after Trump fired previous Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced him with Miller.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Trump administration has made tremendous headway against terrorist threats, but warned against a potentially “humiliating” pullout from Afghanistan that he said would be worse than President Barack Obama’s 2011 withdrawal from Iraq and reminiscent of the U.S. departure from Saigon in 1975.
Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said of the plans for Afghanistan, “We need to ensure a residual force is maintained for the foreseeable future to protect U.S. national and homeland security interests and to help secure peace for Afghanistan.”
Trump’s new Pentagon chief, Christopher Miller, hinted at the troop withdrawals over the weekend in a carefully worded message to the force.