Withdrawal plans disturb Allies and Republicans
Senior Republicans and US allies have shown disagreement with the announcement that a large number of American troops will be pulled out from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The US is to withdraw 2,500 troops from both countries by mid-January, the US Department of Defense confirmed.
President Donald Trump has long called for troops to come home and has criticized US interventions abroad.
The head of Nato warned of a “very high price”. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the plan “a mistake”.
Mr. McConnell – usually a trusty defender of Mr. Trump –
also warned the president against making “any earth-shaking changes in regards to defense and foreign policy” before leaving the White House.
The president-elect has said he is “rightly weary of our longest war” in Afghanistan
but also said there was a need to “end the war responsibly,
in a manner that ensures we both guard against threats to our homeland and never has to go back.”
The Biden transition team has not yet commented on the announcement.
In Iraq, the number of US troops will be cut by 500 to 2,500,
while the number of service personnel in Afghanistan will fall from 4,500 to about 2,500.
Pentagon says consultations were made
Acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller
said the move reflected the president’s policy
“to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful
l and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home”.
“We will protect our children from the heavy burden and toll of perpetual war,
and we will honor the sacrifices made in the services of peace and stability in Afghanistan,
Iraq and around the world,” he said.
He did not confirm if the drawdown plan had been endorsed by Gen Mark Milley,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
but said the decision followed
“continuous engagement with the president’s national security cabinet”.
Mr Miller said the US had met its goal of defeating extremists and helping
“local partners and allies to take the lead in the fight”.
US officials said the withdrawal plans had yet to be hammered out in detail and it was not yet clear which troops would be pulled out.
Shortly after the announcement,
several rockets were fired into the Green Zone in Baghdad and landed near the US embassy.
It is the first such attack since Iraqi militias linked to Iran agreed to stop targeting the embassy compound last month.
The Iraqi military said an Iraqi child was killed and five civilians were wounded.