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US to pull 1,000 troops from Afghanistan for efficiency, CENTOM General tells Reuters

Soldiers load onto a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan. (1st Lt. Verniccia Ford/U.S. Army)
February 15, 2019

The U.S. is planning to pull more than 1,000 troops from Afghanistan in a move meant to increase efficiency, a new report revealed Friday.

The troops will be pulled from Afghanistan operations, thanks to a new commander’s decision geared toward efficiency, not related to ongoing Taliban peace talks, U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel told Reuters exclusively on Friday.

Army Gen. Scott Miller, who assumed command over U.S. forces in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in September 2018, is the commander behind the decision as he seeks to better utilize U.S. resources.

“This is something that he started as he got into the position here and was looking at how we (can) be as efficient and as effective as we can be on the ground,” Votel said. “This is his decision as commander here – how he most effectively uses the resources that he has and trying to be as efficient as he can be.”

Votel also confirmed that Miller “probably will” exceed 1,000 troops in the efficiency cuts. It’s not yet clear where the troops would be moved to.

The decision is in line with President Trump’s desire to draw down on troops in the Middle East.

In December, Trump administration officials said the President was considering plans to withdraw half of the 14,000 U.S. personnel deployed to Afghanistan over the next few months. The report came the day after Trump announced plans to officially withdraw some 2,000 troops from Syria.

In his State of the Union address last week, Trump confirmed his intent to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan after nearly 18 years of war. “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” he said in his speech.

“We don’t want to fight endless wars either. We want to accomplish the mission here,” Votel told Reuters. “I think the strategy that the president has allowed to get put in place here, the South Asia strategy, focused on reconciliation, has been a good one.”

However, many have been critical about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan over concerns that it could weaken counterterrorism efforts and allow ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terror groups to regain momentum.

The U.S. has been making substantial progress in recent peace talks with the Taliban.

U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad held six days of negotiations with the Taliban late last month, after which he said the talks “were more productive than they have been in the past” and made “significant progress on vital issues.”