4000 troops are already at home: President trump delivered on a deal: US has hit agreed troop-cut target of 8,600 in Afghanistan

US President Donald Trump speaks to the troops during a surprise Thanksgiving day visit at Bagram Air Field, on November 28, 2019 in Afghanistan. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP)

President Donald Trump has been eager for a full US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The US troop reduction was part of an agreement between the US and the Taliban signed in February [File: Massoud Hossaini/AP Photo]
The US troop reduction was part of an agreement between the US and the Taliban signed in February [File: Massoud Hossaini/AP Photo]

The United States has reduced its troop presence in Afghanistan to 8,600, fulfilling its obligation as part of a February deal with the Taliban, the general who oversees American forces in that region said on Thursday.

Marine General Frank McKenzie gave no indication of when, or at what pace, US forces would be further reduced. He noted that the February deal requires the US to fully withdraw its forces by next May, but he called that an “aspirational” commitment that would depend on certain actions by the Taliban.

President Donald Trump has been eager for a full US withdrawal from Afghanistan, asserting that American forces are merely policing a civil conflict and should be brought home. The war began in October 2001.

Without directly mentioning the 8,600 figure, McKenzie said, “We’re at that number now,” in accordance with the February agreement. The deal said the US would drop to 8,600 within 135 days, which is mid-July. It represents a reduction from about 12,000 troops at the time of the agreement.

“We have met our part of the agreement,” he said, speaking at an Aspen Strategy Group webinar.
McKenzie said a full US withdrawal would happen if conditions are right.

“Conditions would have to be met that satisfy us that attacks against our homeland are not going to be generated from Afghanistan,” he said. “That’s not the Taliban. That is, of course, al-Qaida and ISIS (ISIL),” referring to the violent group that used haven in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s previous rule to plan the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, as well as the ISIL group’s Afghanistan affiliate.

US marines
US Marines stand during a change of command ceremony at Task Force Southwest military field in Shorab military camp of Helmand province, Afghanistan [File: Massoud Hossaini/AP Photo]

As part of the February deal, the Taliban agreed they would not allow any violent group to use Afghan territory to plan or carry out attacks on the US.

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