Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller, who resumed duty immediately after President Donald Trump fired the former secretary Mark Esper, announced that US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced as per Trump’s orders. The secretary explained that the intention behind the gradual withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East is to fulfill the president’s promise that the United States will end wars in other countries.
“This is for our fallen heroes who lost their lives and the rest of our troops who have continued to fight and survive for us all,” Miller said.
According to the Defense Secretary, about 2500 to 5000 members of the US forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan and about 2,500 to 3,000 will be withdrawn from Iraq. The proposed withdrawal in Afghanistan will be more concentrated than that of Iraq because of the administration’s peace agreement with the Taliban, a religious terrorist group that has been waging war on Afghanistan for almost twenty years.
Esper had reportedly tendered a classified document to the president giving details of the consequences of the planned reduction of troops before he was fired. The ousted secretary of defense stated that there has been an increase in the activities of the Taliban in recent times. He also raised concerns about how safe the remaining officers of the US troops will be with such a drastic reduction.
About 6,900 members of the US troops have lost their lives in trying to ensure stability in Iraq and Afghanistan and another 52,000 have been wounded, figures which Miller used to back up the President’s decision to withdraw the troops. Army General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not present during Miller’s announcement, indicating that top military officials might not be in support of the withdrawal.
National Security Advisor, Robert C. O’Brien who had earlier announced the proposed withdrawal of troops in October announced that by next May, Trump’s wishes that there will no officer of the US military in the countries. O’Brien stated that before then the remaining troops in Afghanistan and Iraq will help to protect US Embassies, work with allies of the US government, and stop the enemies.
The country has spent trillions of dollars since the troops were deployed in 2001 and almost 1 million service members have been sent to Afghanistan with some completing more than one mission to the war-torn country. At least one civilian was killed in Baghdad, Iraq after rockets were shot into the air following news of the reduction in US troops in the country.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned against troop withdrawal, sharing fears that Afghanistan could in the aftermath of the total withdrawal of US troops become the next base of the Islamic State – and wasting all the efforts made to exterminate the jihadist terrorist group from Iraq and Syria. Some members of Congress have stated their approval of the move while others seem to be against it.
American diplomat, James Dobbins who served as the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan warned that the move could make President-elect Joe Biden’s tenure difficult. Dobbins explained that if any form of violence arises after the withdrawal, Biden will be left with spending his first months as President of the United States fixing the situation.