Washington, United States:
The United States will reduce troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to lowest levels in nearly 20 years of war after President Donald Trump pledges to end conflicts abroad, the Pentagon said on Tuesday .
Dismissing concerns that hasty withdrawals could abandon everything the United States has fought for, Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said about 2,000 troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the 15th. January.
Five hundred more would return from Iraq on the same date, leaving 2,500 in each country.
These steps reflect Trump’s policy “to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave servicemen home,” Miller said.
Miller said the United States had achieved its goals, set in 2001 after Al-Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, of defeating Islamist extremists and helping “local partners and allies to take the lead. combat “.
“With the blessings of providence in the coming year, we will end this generational war and bring our men and women home,” he said.
Ending “ endless wars ”
These steps have brought the United States closer to disengaging from the conflicts that have erupted and stifled during three endless presidencies since 2001.
But critics said they risked appearing as a humiliating defeat, leaving the initial threat of extremist Islamic attacks intact.
The announcement came just weeks before Trump relinquished the White House following his re-election on November 3 against Democrat Joe Biden.
Amid criticism that Trump had acted sharply since his defeat, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said troop cuts had been underway for some time.
“Four years ago, President Trump promised to end America’s endless wars. Today, it was announced in the Pentagon that President Trump is keeping that promise to the American people.”
“By May, President Trump hopes they will return home safe and sound and in their entirety.”
Despite the risk of the moves and their impact on the allies, neither Miller nor O’Brien would answer questions about the announcement.
This came 10 days after Trump sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had insisted on keeping 4,500 troops in Afghanistan to support the Kabul government.
Esper had reduced US forces by about 13,000 as a result of the Feb. 29 peace deal between the US and the Taliban insurgents.
The two sides agreed that the Taliban would then negotiate a power-sharing pact with the Afghan government, so that American troops would disappear by May 2021.
But until Esper’s impeachment, the Pentagon had argued that the Taliban had failed to deliver on promises to reduce violent attacks on government forces, and that further troop cuts would spur them to do so.
In Iraq, Trump also withdrew US forces amid dozens of rocket attacks by Iran-allied groups on the US embassy and bases housing US troops.
On Tuesday, a volley of rockets hit the green zone of Baghdad, where the US embassy is located, breaking a month-long truce on attacks on the US embassy.
Speaking on the basis of anonymity, a senior US defense official dismissed concerns about the risk of a resurgence of Al Qaeda and Islamic State.
“Military service professionals agreed it was the right decision,” the official said.
“Al Qaeda has been in Afghanistan for decades and the reality is we would be fools to say they are leaving tomorrow.”
“ Humiliating departure ”
America’s allies and senior politicians, however, viewed the US troop reductions as dangerous.
On Monday, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that the Afghan cuts could lead to a debacle such as the “humiliating Americans leaving Vietnam” in 1975, and be a propaganda victory for Islamic extremists.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on Tuesday that Afghanistan could once again become “a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks against our homeland”.
Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused Trump of a “cynical and chaotic approach” designed to etch his own legacy while leaving a mess for successor Biden.
But another high-ranking Democrat, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, said after speaking with Miller, he viewed the move as “the right political decision.”
“At the same time, this reduction must be executed in a responsible and prudent manner to ensure stability in the region,” he said in a statement.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)