President Donald Trump is expected to issue a formal order soon to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by January 15 — the lowest number of forces there since the early 2000s, according to the Associated Press on Monday.
There are currently about 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the president’s potential order would halve that presence and take a big step towards fulfilling his promise to bring U.S. troops home from overseas ears.
Trump is also expected to draw down the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 2,500, from approximately 3,000 there now.
The orders come after the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who resisted the president’s decisions to withdraw more troops from the Middle East.
Military leaders were reportedly told over the weekend about the planned withdrawals.
Trump’s Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller foreshadowed the drawdowns in a memo to the Pentagon sent early Saturday morning.
He wrote in the memo:
Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home. As I consider the scarring but ennobling experience many of us have undergone during this war, the words of Abraham Lincoln during his second Inaugural Address bring me strength, perspective, and confidence:
‘With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.’
William Ruger, Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and the vice president for research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute, urged the president to end the war in an interview with Breitbart News on Monday.
“Trump can really cement his legacy as the president who ended America’s longest war if he does this, and I think the president should want to do that,” he said.
“He would be the first president since at least Reagan to not start a major new war, and he’d be the president who got us out of America’s longest war. That’s what the president should want in the first paragraph of the history of his presidency,” he added.