Miller made the announcement in remarks to Pentagon reporters that highlighted the next step in what he called “President Trump’s plan to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home.”
The new drawdowns continue this year’s trend of significant troop reductions in each country as American troop levels in Afghanistan dropped from 13,000 at the start of the year to the current level of 4,500. This year’s troop reduction in Iraq, the first in five years, lowered the troop count in Iraq from 5,660 to 3,000 in October.
Miller said Tuesday that he was announcing the implementation of Trump’s “orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries.”
Speaking of the conflict in Afghanistan, Miller said that “with the blessings of providence in the coming year, we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home.”
The decision to go down to 2,500 troops by mid-January in Afghanistan will make feasible the pullout of all American troops in Afghanistan by May 2021, as outlined in the U.S.-Taliban peace deal.
But that full withdrawal depended on security conditions on the ground in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s adherence to not attack U.S. forces.
Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, later told White House reporters that the president campaigned “on a promise to put a stop to America’s endless wars.”
“Today, as just announced at the Pentagon, President Trump is keeping that promise,” said O’Brien who added that the president hoped that by May the remaining troops in Iraq and Afghanistan “will all come home.”