Trump considering reducing the number of US troops in Afghanistan: officials
The Trump administration is considering reducing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with the possibility that some troops begin withdrawing in the coming weeks, according to a U.S. official.
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A second official told ABC News that discussions have been underway for several weeks about how to withdraw some U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The president discussed the plan on Wednesday with Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, who all cautioned against the move, according to a third U.S. official and another source with knowledge of the meeting. Trump believes withdrawing troops from Afghanistan would appeal to his base and fulfill a campaign promise.
The consideration comes just one day after Trump announced he was pulling 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria within 30 days.
Late on Thursday, Mattis announced he would leave the office of Defense Secretary on Feb. 28, 2019, writing in a resignation letter about the importance of U.S. alliances and partnerships, issues that Mattis and Trump have clashed over in the past.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects,” Mattis wrote. “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
Asked whether the president had given any indication he intends to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said on Thursday to ABC News, “I’m concerned about that, but after having been to Afghanistan, it will pave the way for another 9/11.
“It will be the most disastrous decision any president could make as to withdraw our forces from Afghanistan without conditions changing.”
There are currently about 14,000 U.S. troops serving in a counterterrorism mission against the Taliban and ISIS and as part of a train, advise, and assist mission for Afghan security forces.
ABC News’ Mariam Khan contributed to this report from Capitol Hill.
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