Sgt. 1st Class Joseph P. Curry works out as part of the U.S. Army strength reduction exercise at a Army training center in Pittsburgh, in February 2018. (Megan Cook/AP Photo)
President Trump has ordered the United States to reduce its troop strength in Afghanistan by next February to between 3,900 and 4,500 people. Trump’s message Monday night said the force reductions, which are to be completed by the end of next year, will end the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
“We must leave Afghanistan – now!” Mr. Trump said in a statement announcing the reductions. He said the move was expected to lead to both savings and a more resilient Afghan military, which he said would eventually rely on more local law enforcement and economy rather than relying on the U.S. for its support.
Mr. Trump is reversing a decision his predecessor, President Barack Obama, made in December 2014, when he made the decision to boost the U.S. force by about 15,000.
In July, Adm. Michael S. Mullen, who retired in June as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had told senators that the U.S. force in Afghanistan had dwindled to “almost a crisis level” and had failed to make significant progress.
“The United States’ decision in 2014 to adopt a strategy of accelerating the exit of our troop presence has degraded the capability of the Afghan security forces and created difficulties for the government to operate effectively,” Admiral Mullen said.
The United States has a total of about 14,000 military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan.
“In order to increase our military capacity, I have ordered a reduction in our troop presence in Afghanistan in order to return to an assigned 2016 force level,” Mr. Trump said in his statement. He called the decision a “step in the direction of clear-eyed negotiations” with the Taliban, in order to bring peace to Afghanistan and end the United States’ 17-year-old war.
Read the full text of the statement.