Despite a ban by the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon reduced the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500. This was reported today, January 15, by the U.S. news agency AP News.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who ordered the military drawdown in November 2020, announced the day before that the number of troops in Afghanistan had reached a 19-year low, although he did not name the exact number of troops remaining. In his remarks, Trump referred to his long-standing desire to withdraw completely from Afghanistan.
“I will always seek to stop the endless wars,” he said, referring to the U.S. wars that have gone on in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003.
Although top U.S. military officials have warned against a rapid drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller assured Nov. 17 that he would comply with Trump’s orders. As a result, the Pentagon has managed to withdraw more than 1,500 troops from the country in the past few weeks. Under Trump’s orders, commanders also reduced the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 2,500 from about 3,000 during the same period.
It should be noted that the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the U.S. Congress two weeks ago prohibited the Pentagon from using money from the budget to reduce the number of troops below 4,000 – or lower than the number the country had on the day the bill passed. Donald Trump vetoed the congressional decision, but both the House and Senate rejected it.
Now the Pentagon has yet to explain how it was able to circumvent the ban. In response to questions on the matter, there was a vague statement that said:
“The Department of Defense will adhere to all legislative provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, including those in Section 1215 that affect the ongoing drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.”
The Pentagon also assured that they are working with the National Security Council “on the most effective means to ensure consistency amid the initial drawdown already taking place across Afghanistan and in a way that continues to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel.”
During Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president, the US increased the total number of US troops in Afghanistan to 100,000, but all attempts to get the Taliban (a movement banned in Russia) to the negotiating table were unsuccessful. When Trump took office four years ago, there were about 8,500 troops in the country, which has since increased to about 13,000, AP News recalls.