US military creating plans for Trump to pull out troops from Afghanistan
- Defense Department officials are planning to brief President Donald Trump on several options to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, according to multiple reports.
- One of the options includes a complete withdrawal before the 2020 US presidential election in November.
- However, officials reportedly added that they were likely to advise Trump not to reduce the US's footprint too soon.
- Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ardent supporter of the Trump administration, cautioned that an abrupt withdrawal would be "horrendous."
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Defense Department officials are reportedly planning to brief President Donald Trump on several options to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, including one to pull them out before the 2020 US presidential election in November.
Senior officials familiar with the plans said multiple options with varying timelines will soon be presented to the president, according to a New York Times report published Tuesday. Other plans included leaving 5,000 or 1,500 US troops in the country, according to a separate Wall Street Journal report.
However, officials added that they were leaning towards advising Trump against reducing the US's footprint too soon. The prospect of pulling US forces by November would mark a shift from the vague peace agreement between representatives of a fraction of the Taliban's many factions and the US.
The US previously committed to pulling out 3,400 troops by July, and all of them by May 2021, if certain conditions were met. The US's withdrawal is contingent on the Taliban's clear separation from terrorist groups, including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda; continued talks with the Afghan government, and an overall reduction of violence.
Since the signing of the agreement in February, civilian casualties in the country have increased, and the spirit of the agreement has been marred by tensions between the Taliban and Afghan government, which was not a party to the deal.
Trump has expressed a desire to end the US's wars throughout the course of his presidency. In 2019, he abruptly ordered the withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria, much to the surprise and chagrin of officials and allies who advocated for a continued US presence in the region to ensure ISIS didn't regroup again.
Speaking to media at the Rose Garden on Tuesday, Trump addressed concerns about another withdrawal.
"We're there 19 years ... yeah, I think that's enough," Trump said of the US's war in Afghanistan. "We can always go back if we want to."
Trump added that he did not have a specific date in mind for a potential US withdrawal, and claimed he wanted it "over a period of time but as soon as reasonable."
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an ardent supporter of the Trump administration, cautioned that an abrupt withdrawal would be "horrendous for our national security interests, especially concerning threats to the homeland."
"I cannot envision any agreement that does not allow for a residual counter-terrorism force combined with a robust intelligence gathering capability sufficient to protect our vital national security interests in the region as well as protecting the American homeland," Graham said in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a Wall Street Journal opinion column.
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