US to reduce troops in Afghanistan, Iraq by mid-January
Troops will be down to 2,500 in each country, according to acting defense chief Chris Miller
The US will reduce troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 by Jan. 15, Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said Tuesday.
"January 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 day," Miller told a news briefing at the Pentagon.
"This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives, and does not equate to a change in US policy or objectives," said the acting defense chief.
At the moment, the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan is around 4,500, with 3,000 in Iraq.
The announcement came one day after CNN reported US military expects President Donald Trump to order a withdrawal of more troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before he leaves the White House on Jan. 20.
Trump has long criticized the presence of American troops overseas as his aim of divorcing the US from "endless wars" became his foreign policy.
Trump’s decision "is based on continuous engagement with his national security Cabinet for the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government," said Miller.
Shortly after the announcement, White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said the policy is not new and has been Trump's policy since he became president.
"By May, it is President Trump's hope that they will all come home safely and in their entirety," O'Brien told reporters at the White House.
Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the price for leaving Afghanistan too soon could be very high.
"We now face a difficult decision. We have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and no NATO ally wants to stay any longer than necessary. But at the same time, the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high," Stoltenberg said in a statement.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.