Trump told advisers he wants to pull US troops from Afghanistan by 2020 election: report

Aaron Schwartz

President Trump has informed advisers that he wants to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the 2020 election, NBC News reported Friday, citing five current and former administration and military officials.

The deadline has reportedly increased tension between officials at the Defense and State departments over whether such a withdrawal should happen and its timing.

“It’s tense,” one former official briefed on the matter told NBC. {mosads}

Last December, Trump reportedly threatened to pull troops out of Afghanistan and to close the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The president reportedly argued that without the military, embassy personnel might not be safe. 

Military officials, including Gen. Scott Miller, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, have pushed back against the plan to pull out all troops within the next 15 months, officials told NBC. Officials said Miller would consider withdrawing some troops but would want others to remain to fight ISIS or al Qaeda.

Other officials, including at the State Department, reportedly worry that without a withdrawal plan, Trump could suddenly remove all troops. 

Pentagon spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich told The Hill in a statement Saturday that it had not been ordered to withdraw troops. 

“Our strategy in Afghanistan is conditions-based,” she said. “Our troops will remain in Afghanistan at appropriate levels so long as their presence is required to safeguard U.S. interests.”

Rebarich added that the Defense Department does not comment on military planning. 

A State Department spokesperson also said that troop reductions or withdrawals would be conditions-based. 

A State Department spokesperson told NBC that it is reviewing the size of the embassy in Kabul.

The Hill has also reached out the White House for comment.

Trump has long advocated for ending the war in Afghanistan, including during his 2016 campaign. 

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the Trump administration is planning to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan to between 8,000 and 9,000 from the current 14,000, citing U.S. officials.

Updated: 10:05 a.m.

Tags Afghanistan Donald Trump

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