Nov. 17 (UPI) — Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced Tuesday that the United States plans to withdraw 2,500 troops from Afghanistan and Iraq by Jan. 15.
“I am formally announcing that we will implement President [Donald] Trump’s orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries,” he said.
Miller said he has spoken with and alerted congressional leaders as well as allies abroad.
“This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security Cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government,” Miller added.
The drawdown will come less than one week before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated into office. And the announcement comes a week after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper after months of tension between the two.
Before Esper’s departure, he sent a classified memo to the White House recommending that troops not be reduced in Afghanistan until certain conditions were met, officials with knowledge of the memo told CNN. The recommendation was backed by U.S. Central Command head Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie and Gen. Austin Miller, NATO’s head of command in Afghanistan.
Miller did not elaborate on whether those conditions for a drawdown in Afghanistan had been met.
There are currently 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq.