Just hours after U.S. President’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said U.S. forces in Afghanistan will shrink to 2,500 by early 2021, Donald Trump himself posted a Twitter message saying all troops should be home by Christmas.
“By Christmas, the small remaining number of our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan should be home!
A few hours before that tweet, O’Brien said U.S. troops will be down to 2,500 by early next year.
“Eventually, the Afghans will have to come up with an agreement, a peace agreement … it will be slow progress, it will be hard progress, but we think it’s a necessary step, we think the Americans need to go home,” O’Brien said.
As a result, Reuters said it’s not yet clear whether Trump gave the order or just voiced old intentions. But Trump, who intends to become president for the second time in a month, insists that leaving “ridiculous endless wars” is a cornerstone of his foreign policy.
The February agreement between u.s. and the Taliban envisages a complete withdrawal of u.s. and allied forces from Afghanistan. Since then, the number of troops has fallen from 13,000 to 8,600, and a further reduction to 4,500 is expected by November. O’Brien, however, said fewer than 5,000 troops are already in Afghanistan, but no confirmation or details have yet been provided.
Testifying before a House committee in September, U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said once U.S. troops reach 4,500, the administration will “assess the actions we have taken and make decisions about it.