Graham: Afghanistan withdrawal would be ‘paving the way toward a second 9/11’

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Why Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets MORE (R-S.C.) said Thursday that withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan would be a “high risk strategy” that could pave “the way toward a second 9/11.”

“Like in Syria, troop withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground," he said in a statement. "The conditions in Afghanistan – at the present moment – make American troop withdrawals a high risk strategy. If we continue on our present course we are setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11.” 

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Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that the Trump administration is considering a major drawdown in the number of U.S. military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.

“I have just returned from Afghanistan and can say – without hesitation – ISIS-K remains a direct threat to our homeland and they would dramatically benefit from a reduced American troop presence. Our Afghan partners are incapable of subduing the threat posed by ISIS-K alone. In addition, our intelligence capability and military might cannot be replaced by any other regional ally when it comes to subduing ISIS-K in Afghanistan or Pakistan,” Graham said.

Graham has been a prominent supporter of using military force to deal with foreign threats.

Reports about a drawdown in Afghanistan comes one day after Trump announced his surprise decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and the same day Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Trump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing Overnight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey MORE’ resignation was announced. 

Graham also ripped the Syria announcement, saying it was “chaos” and compared it to President Obama’s controversial withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. 

“I have no understanding of why we’re doing this. To me it is an ill-conceived idea. The downside is really great and the upside is pretty small,” he said. “This decision, if implemented, I think will be detrimental to our national security interests.”