The Trump administration is “actively considering plans” for a significant drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan that could begin as soon as several weeks from now, according to a report.
The report of the potential drawdown, from the Wall Street Journal, comes after President Trump announced earlier in the week a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.
The report also came right before Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced his planned resignation in February.
Notably, Mattis’s resignation letter laid out his belief in the importance of allies and alliances, noting that NATO had come to the U.S.’s aid after the 9/11 attack originating from Afghanistan.
He had also spent significant energy convincing NATO allies and partners to continue supporting the mission in Afghanistan through the end of 2020.
There are approximately 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan who are engaged in a training and advising the mission of Afghan troops, as well as a counterterrorism mission.
About 7,000 U.S. troops would begin to come home from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, officials told WSJ.
Trump had campaigned on ending the wars in Afghanistan and had previously vowed to bring home the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria.
In the summer of 2017, he announced he was adding about 1,000 more troops to bolster the training and advising mission, but said it went against his instinct. Since then, security conditions in Afghanistan have not improved, according to the latest government watchdog report.
U.S. forces deployed to Syria to help defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and to work with local Syrian and Kurdish partners on the ground against ISIS.
However, the Syrian regime and its ally Russia had frequently called the U.S. military presence in the country illegal.
Lawmakers back in Washington, such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), have also been pushing Congress to end unauthorized wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere.