New acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller made it official Tuesday: the U.S. military will draw down forces in Afghanistan and Iraq by Jan. 15, 2021.
U.S. forces will be cut by roughly half in Afghanistan to 2,500, and by 500 troops in Iraq to 2,500, Miller said in the Pentagon briefing room. Miller said he called allies and spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about the decision.
“This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government,” Miller said. “I have also spoken with our military commanders and we all will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the intelligence community and diplomatic corps and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace in troubled lands.”
President Trump has called for American troops to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan since he assumed office in 2017. Earlier this year, he drew the ire of some military officials by declaring troops should be “home by Christmas.”