Military Being Told to Plan for Troop Drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan: CNN

 

CNN reported Monday afternoon that the U.S. military is preparing for a formal announcement of a drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan while President Donald Trump is still in office.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said the announcement could come within the next few days from the president “to begin that further withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and have them out by Jan. 15, just five days before he leaves office.”

She said it’s a “very significant drawdown” and something that commanders were concerned about because they believed “it would become much harder for them to do their mission.”

“There is still a chance that U.S. commanders could talk him out of it, but this is a political agenda that the president very much has wanted to pursue,” Starr reported. “Many inside the Pentagon think last week’s purge, the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the putting in of Trump loyalists at the top of the Pentagon, was aimed at carrying this very decision out and making it happen.”

She explained that top military officials were advising against this move because of “real concern that the government of Afghanistan and Afghanistan security forces might not be able to withstand that Taliban violence if those higher numbers of U.S. troops are not there.”

Brianna Keilar said this seems “very bizarre” to be doing this in the transition period. She suggested it could be setting up the Joe Biden administration for failure.

“By doing this, you have essentially, many believe, forfeited the leverage of the U.S. military against the Taliban,” Starr said.

She added again that the commanders want to bring the troops home, but there’s a question of how to do it the right way.

“It’s a question of, is it time? Is the time right?” Starr said. “Is the president taking the best military advice from the generals and commanders in charge? It does not appear that he is. Is he making a decision based on some of his own political statements — seems much more likely to be what he’s doing, and much more likely this is the fundamental reason he cleared out the Pentagon leadership last week. This now leaves him the ability to do as he chooses.”

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac