Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) on Tuesday applauded President Donald Trump’s decision to reduce U.S. troops in Afghanistan from approximately 4,500 down to 2,500 by January 15.
“After speaking with the Acting Secretary this morning, I believe reducing our forward deployed footprint in Afghanistan down to 2,500 troops is the right policy decision,” he said in a statement released Monday after speaking with Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.
He cautioned that the reduction must be “responsibly and carefully executed to ensure stability in the region.”
While the history of conflict in the region is complex and predates our direct involvement, after nearly 20 years of armed conflict, Americans and Afghans alike are ready for the violence to end. It is clear that groups like ISIS-K and the Taliban will continue to fight and sow chaos, but ultimately it is up to the Afghans to find a sustainable path to peace.
Our primary goal has been, and continues to be, the prevention of transnational terrorists from launching an attack against the United States from Afghanistan. In order to contain the terrorist threat as we draw down our troop levels, it is critical that we coordinate the drawdown closely with our allies, as well as our partners in the Afghan government, to protect our interests and those of our allies in Afghanistan.
Trump made the decision after being given several options by the Pentagon earlier this year to draw down forces.
Pentagon leaders had argued that the president should leave the troop presence at 4,500.
However, Trump has long wanted to end the war in Afghanistan and his administration brokered peace negotiations between the U.S.-backed Afghan government and the Taliban. If those negotiations are successful, the U.S. could withdraw all troops by April, according to a prospective peace deal.