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US to Reduce Troop Numbers in Afghanistan, US Secretary of Defense

Published Dec 18, 2019
Updated Feb 05, 2020

US Secretary Defense Mark Esper has indicated that there will be a draw down of troops without specifying the numbers which are expected to be around 4000.

In a meet the press he has clearly indicated that the mission in Afghanistan is possible with lower numbers and has quoted the US and RSM commander in the country General Scott Miller stating that he is confident that he can tackle the current and the emerging situation with reduced numbers.

The increase in capability of the Afghan Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) has only added to the overall confidence that has been gained by the US for a pull out.

Importantly Esper has not linked the talks with the pull out and is possibly implying that success of negotiations with the Taliban is not likely to impact the decision either way. Never the less this will certainly bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan to a large extent.

Full Transcript of the In-Flight Media Availability of Secretary Esper is as given below-

Well, I can say, for quite some time now, that I think we can go to a lower number in Afghanistan because the commander believes that he can conduct the all-important counter-terrorism mission and train, advise and assist so that we ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.

So he’s confident that he can go down to a lower number. I would like to go down to a lower number because I want to either bring those troops home, so they can refit and retrain for other missions or/and be redeployed to the Indo-Pacific to face off our greatest challenge in terms of the great power competition that’s vis-a-vis China.

So, anyways, we’ll see. There — you know, there are a couple paths to get there. I think, again, today the best solution for Afghanistan is a political agreement. But I think we could go down to a lower number with or without that political agreement.

And I have — I have issued no orders yet to do that. We’ll just take this a day at a time and see how things play out in the coming weeks. This is a conversation that has to be had between me and the secretary of state. We want to consult closer with our allies, but at the end of the day it will be the commander in chief’s decision.