Defense

Top Republican proposes leaving 1,000 US troops in Afghanistan into next year

The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is proposing that the Biden administration leave 1,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to prevent a security vacuum after this year’s planned withdrawal.

President Biden “could leave a small force of about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan until at least the spring of 2022,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday.

“Maintaining a small, tailored troop presence for an additional six months would accomplish critical objectives,” Inhofe writes, referring to Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Inhofe said the extended timeline would allow Washington to “maintain a quick counterterrorism force as the political and security environment evolves; enable more-effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; help protect the U.S. Embassy during what the intelligence community predicts will be a chaotic transition; and allow more time to process visas for Afghans who assisted U.S. troops and now fear for their lives.”

American troops are already in the process of leaving Afghanistan following Biden’s April order to be out by mid-September.

U.S. officials have insisted the Afghan military will be able to keep terrorism threats in check through what’s known as over-the-horizon operations, or those launched from beyond Afghanistan’s borders.

Inhofe argued that Biden is ignoring conditions on the ground in making the decision to pull out and should maintain “a relatively small troop presence until the conditions outlined in the 2020 U.S.-Taliban Agreement are fully implemented.”

That agreement, signed in February 2020 by the Trump administration and the Taliban, stipulates that the militant group will not allow the planning or implementation of any attacks on the U.S. or its allies on Afghan soil.

Inhofe pointed to the rise of ISIS after former President Obama withdrew forces from Iraq in 2011, fearing a similar outcome in Afghanistan.

By staying until next spring, Washington “would be able to conduct a realistic assessment of how the security situation is evolving,” which “will help us understand whether the Taliban intends to meet its commitments,” he wrote.

Tags Afghan Taliban Afghanistan James Inhofe Joe Biden terrorist attacks troop withdrawal US troops

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