With just days left in his term, President Donald Trump has fulfilled yet another promise to the American people.
American Military News reports that Trump’s plans to withdraw roughly 2,000 troops from Afghanistan and hundreds more from Iraq have been executed, meaning the number of troops in the two countries is now at its lowest in nearly 20 years.
Pulling them out
According to American Military News, the development was announced Friday by Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. He said in a statement that approximately 2,000 troops had been pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving just 2,500 remaining in the country.
“Directed by President Trump, and as I announced on November 17, this drawdown brings U.S. forces in the country to their lowest levels since 2001,” Miller said. “Today, the United States is closer than ever to ending nearly two decades of war and welcoming in an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process to achieve a political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” he added.
According to Miller, the reduction came as part of the 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement and the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration from that same year. In those deals, the U.S. agreed to remove its troops from Afghanistan so long as the Taliban remains free of violence and works toward peace with Afghanistan’s government.
If the peace continues, the U.S. could have all of its troops removed from Afghanistan by May of this year, Miller said.
“Moving forward, while the Department continues with planning capable of further reducing U.S. troop levels to zero by May of 2021, any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based,” he explained. “All sides must demonstrate their commitment to advancing the peace process. Further, the United States will continue to take any action necessary to ensure protection of our homeland, our citizens and our interests.”
“Stopping the endless wars”
As for Iraq, Miller told a similar tale, saying in a separate statement Friday that the U.S. had “reduced the force levels in Iraq to 2,500,” a move he said “is reflective of the increased capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces.”
Miller explained that officials had “long anticipated that the force level required to support Iraq’s fight against ISIS would decrease as Iraq’s capability to manage the threat from ISIS improves. Our ability to reduce force levels is evidence of real progress,” he said.
The defense secretary also said the U.S. “will continue to have a counterterrorism platform in Iraq to support partner forces with airpower and intelligence.”
With that, it seems Trump and his administration have officially met their goal of paring down troop numbers in the Middle East — and the president wasn’t afraid to boast about it in a brief statement of his own on Thursday.
“United States military troops in Afghanistan are at a 19-year low. Likewise, Iraq and Syria are also at the lowest point in many years,” Trump said. He went on:
I will always be committed to stopping the endless wars. It has been a great honor to rebuild our military and support our brave men and women in uniform. $2.5 trillion invested, including in beautiful new equipment — all made in the U.S.A.