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Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader

Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader
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The May 1st deadline to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan is “not a deadline that could have ever been achieved,” former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Navy medic killed after wounding 2 sailors in Maryland shooting | Dems push Biden for limits on military gear transferred to police | First day of talks on Iran deal 'constructive' 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader MORE said Monday.

But Hagel, a retired sergeant and former Republican senator for Nebraska, also said it’s high time for U.S. forces to vacate America’s longest war.

“I think it’s time that we will have to leave and I think we will leave, but it has to be done responsibly,” Hagel told The Hill's Steve Clemons.

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Roughly 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan with the war in its 20th year, but President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE is facing a May 1 deadline to withdraw them all under a deal brokered between the Trump administration and the Taliban last year.

The U.S. pullout hinges on the Taliban fulfilling commitments including breaking from al Qaeda and reducing violence in Afghanistan — benchmarks the U.S. military has said the insurgents have yet to meet.

Biden, however, last week indicated he will not follow that deadline, saying it will be “hard” to withdraw forces by that date. He also said he doesn’t expect to have American forces on the ground in Afghanistan next year.

“We are not staying a long time,” he said. “We will leave, the question is when we leave," Biden said at a news conference Thursday.

Hagel, who called the Trump-era agreement “very irresponsible,” as it cut the Afghan government out of the peace process, said the United States still must move to untangle itself from military commitments in the country, albeit carefully and with coordination with NATO allies and partners also with interests in the region.

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“We can continue to support [Afghanistan] and we will in some ways, but we can’t continue what we’ve been doing and I think the American people are aware of that, they want that, and I think the Congress is very clear on this point as well,” Hagel said.

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerIncreasingly active younger voters liberalize US electorate Sunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Kinzinger: GOP downplaying Capitol riot something 'out of North Korea' MORE (R-Ill.), who also spoke to Clemons on Monday, said that in explaining any future actions in the country the Biden administration might do well to lay out why Americans are still there and what might happen if they leave.   

“If we pull out and NATO pulls put, I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s going to be tough for the Afghan government to stay. . . . Any time you have ungoverned territory where terrorist organizations can plan, and train and recruit is dangerous and we know we’re going to end back there anyway,” Kinzinger said.

Both Hagel and Kinzinger spoke at The Hill's "Future of Defense Summit," co-sponsored by Collins Aerospace and Lockheed Martin.