President Donald Trump said Wednesday night that he wants all U.S. forces in Afghanistan home by Christmas, a faster timeline than one laid out by his own national security advisor.
“We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” Trump tweeted.
The president has repeatedly pledged to end American involvement in “endless wars” in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and his latest campaign promise comes less than a month before Election Day on Nov. 3 as he trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls.
White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien in a speech earlier Wednesday presented a less ambitious pace for withdrawal, saying the U.S. intends to reduce its troop level in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early 2021.
The White House will work off the timeline set out by the president, according to a senior administration official. At the least, Trump’s tweet puts added pressure on the Pentagon to remove forces more quickly than planned.
The Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Afghanistan is the site of the U.S.’s longest war, and 5,000 American troops are currently serving there. Defense officials have previously said they were looking to draw down American forces to between 4,000 and 5,000 by the end of November.
The U.S. signed a landmark agreement with the Taliban in February that called for the departure of all foreign military forces next year.
An abrupt withdrawal of remaining U.S. forces could upset fragile negotiations that are just beginning between the Afghan government and its Taliban opponents.- Bloomberg
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