State Department eyeing cuts to embassy staff in Afghan capital: report

The State Department is considering cutting its embassy staff in Kabul, Afghanistan, NPR reported Thursday, citing talking points written by staff.

The document, which comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE plans to draw down its military presence in Afghanistan, calls for a "comprehensive review" to look into whether the embassy is appropriately staffed, according to NPR.

"Our presence in Kabul has grown over the years to the current extraordinary footprint," the document reportedly reads. "This Mission is now the largest in the world by far, and bigger than we should be (twice the size of other large embassies and 35 percent larger than Baghdad)."

ADVERTISEMENT

A State Department spokesperson did not comment on the specifics of NPR's report, but told The Hill that staffing changes are possible.

"The Department regularly reviews our presence at our overseas missions to reflect changing circumstances and our policy goals," they said.

"In the meantime, our efforts in Afghanistan will shift. Future staffing at Embassy Kabul will reflect the priorities outlined by the President."

According to NPR, there are currently thousands working at the embassy in Kabul.

During his State of the Union address earlier this month President Trump touted “progress” in negotiations for a peace agreement with the Taliban.

Trump said that progress means “we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism.”

According to U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. hopes for an agreement before the country's elections in July.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin MORE visited Afghanistan Monday and met with with President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the progress peace negotiations.

On Thursday, Shanahan told NATO defense allies during a visit to Brussels, Belgium, that troops will not be unilaterally withdrawn from the country.

“There will be no unilateral troop reduction,” Shanahan said. “That was one message of the meeting today. We’ll be coordinated. We’re together.”