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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens 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 MattisOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court Former Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy 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.”