President Trump told White House officials his goal is to have all the U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan before the presidential election in 2020.
Five former and current military and administration officials, along with Trump’s advisers were present when these words came from the president. The advisers to the president are now trying to meet the deadline which is causing tension between the State Department and the Pentagon on the timing and the whether or not it is safe to withdraw all of the troops.
Last December the president was going to shut down the U.S. embassy in Kabul and immediately pull out all of the troops in Afghanistan. He stated the embassy was too expensive and oversized and the military officials and administration immediately offered a plan on shrinking the embassy staff as they sought for more time.
One former U.S. defense official stated, “He was fed up with hearing that the U.S. was not winning there. It was no secret he wanted out, but deciding to pull out of the embassy, too, was a shock.”
Trump argued the only thing keeping the U.S. embassy staff safe was the U.S. military. He said he wanted it closed and it was time for America to pull its troops out of the war or else it could bankrupt America as it happened to Russia in the ’80s.
Due to the safety of the troops, a Pentagon spokesman stated they do not make any statements on military planning. They only stated the U.S. Military was condition based in Afghanistan.
President Trump was questioned how many troops he was going to withdraw from Afghanistan, he stated, “We’re reducing it. We’ve been there for 19 years. We’re really serving as policemen. We could win Afghanistan in two days or three days or four days if we wanted, but I’m not looking to kill 10 million people.”
As the Commander in Chief, Trump had made one of his campaign promises to end wars like Afghanistan. It was no secret how agitated he was when he took office how little progress was done with the war.
Last year, his frustrations went overboard when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford told him the war was not going so good. The Commander in Chief asked him one simple question, “Is the Taliban winning in Afghanistan?” Dunford replied, “They are not losing right now.”
President Trump told his aides if the troops cannot win with all the time they spent over in Afghanistan, then it is now time to pull every American out and shut down the embassy. Seven thousand Troops were pulled out right before Christmas, and the other half, which is around seven thousand, will be coming home within months.
With the 2020 Presidential Election around the corner, and the campaigns going on, the president can expect to be asked if withdrawing is political or a U.S. national security interest. It has been on his agenda since the 2016 election which saw President Trump victorious over Hillary Clinton.
There is bipartisan support from the decision including some of the Democratic Primary Candidates. Any outcome could be something the candidates will sink their teeth into whether the troops remain in Afghanistan or if they come home. The Democrats can never be satisfied and find it almost impossible to work with Conservatives, so they will complain no matter what.
Some of the military leaders are reluctant to pull out all of the troops. General Scott Miller who is the commander of U.S. forces agrees to pull out a vast number of troops but feels they need to keep the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to fight off the remnants of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
The argument is currently heating up as the National Security Adviser John Bolton is siding with the U.S. Military to keep a small group of U.S. troops present while the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sides with the President on shutting the operation down completely and sending the remaining troops home.
A senior administration official put out a statement, “There is no deadline for the American mission in Afghanistan. The president has been clear that, as we make progress on the peace process, we will begin to scale back our troop presence.”
A White House Spokesperson stated last week, “We intend to consolidate the US presence while maintaining personnel and programs essential to protect core US national security interests.”