In the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump had promised to bring home all US troops from countries like Afghanistan. Shortly before the end of his term in office, the US president now wants to create facts.
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The incumbent US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of further US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. By January 15, the number of soldiers will be reduced to around 2,500 each, said the acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on Tuesday in the Pentagon. The partial withdrawal would be implemented immediately before the inauguration of the elected US President Joe Biden. The swearing-in is scheduled for January 20th.
A total of 7,500 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan
The Department of Defense did not provide any information on how many US soldiers are currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the US broadcaster CNN, there are currently 4,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. Miller said the US was entering a new phase in the fight against international terrorism. As several US media reported on Monday about appropriate preparations, the announcement was expected.
The partial deduction follows Trump’s electoral defeat by Biden. Shortly thereafter, the incumbent president sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper, which in turn led to the replacement of high-ranking positions in the Pentagon with Trump supporters. For example, former Army officer Douglas Macgregor was appointed senior advisor to Executive Minister Miller. Macgregor is known as a critic of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trump pushed for the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2016
The USA signed an agreement with the militant Islamist Taliban at the end of February that promises the gradual withdrawal of all US and NATO forces by the end of April 2021. The Taliban committed to peace talks with the government in Kabul, which began in September. However, the process stalled in the dispute over procedural issues.
Trump had already promised to bring troops home during the 2016 election campaign. In particular, he pushed for the withdrawal from Afghanistan. According to US media reports, he was recently increasingly frustrated with the pace of the withdrawal.
US soldiers in Afghanistan since 2001
At the beginning of August, the US had informed its NATO allies that it wanted to reduce its troops from around 12,000 at that time to below 5,000 by the end of November. In mid-September, Trump announced that the troop strength should be quickly reduced to less than 4,000. Almost four weeks before the US election in early November, Donald Trump even announced on Twitter that the soldiers should be back in the US by Christmas.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest in US history. American soldiers have been in the country since 2001. After the attacks of September 11th of that year, US-led troops marched in there. It is still unclear what effects the recent US cuts could have on the Bundeswehr’s engagement. Around 1,000 soldiers are currently stationed in northern Afghanistan. The current mandate of the Bundestag provides for the use of up to 1,300.
Use of German soldiers extended by 15 months
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized on Monday that the alliance would continue to train, advise and support the Afghan security forces. At the same time, if the US withdraws completely, NATO would have to end its mission because the other allies are not militarily in a position to continue it alone.
The Bundestag only extended the deployment of German soldiers in Iraq by a further 15 months at the end of October. In doing so, Germany is making its contribution to the fight of an international coalition against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). A maximum of 500 soldiers can be deployed.