Pentagon Hasn’t Decided on Withdrawing U.S. Troops From Afghanistan as Deadline Looms
Former President Trump’s plan to have all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan this year appear to be in jeopardy, with the Biden Administration still not ready to decide if troops will be withdrawn on timetable established in February last year.
The Pentagon said Monday that it has not decided whether to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as Washington considers a potential end to America’s longest war.
“Everybody here is mindful of looming deadlines,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters during a press briefing. “And I cannot today sketch out for you what specific planning is going on when there hasn’t been a decision made yet about future force posture in Afghanistan,” he said.
The Trump Administration brokered a deal with the Taliban last year that result in a permanent cease-fire, with the U.S. reducing troops from about 13,000 to 8,600 by the summer of 2020. Trump further reduced that number to 2,500 before leaving office, with the agreement calling for all foreign forces to pull out by May 2021.
But the new administration is weary of the Taliban’s commitment to the terms of the deal, saying it would like to see a further reduction of violence before committing to a full withdrawal from the country:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters on the heels of the NATO meeting that the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan would be contingent on a reduction of violence in the country.
“The violence must decrease, now,” Austin said, in his first press briefing with reporters. “I told our allies that no matter what the outcome of our review, the United States will not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan,” he said, referring to the virtual NATO meetings.
“There will be no surprises. We will consult each other, consult together and decide together and act together,” Austin said of the NATO-led mission.
The war in Afghanistan has been the longest in U.S. history, with troops first entering the country shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The war on terror in total has been costly for the country, with taxpayers forking over about over $1.57 trillion for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
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