US military anticipates Trump will issue order to plan for further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq

US military commanders are anticipating that a formal order will be given by President Donald Trump as soon as this week to begin a further withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20, according to two US officials familiar.

The Pentagon has issued a notice to commanders known as awarning orderto begin planning to drawdown the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 troops and 2,500 in Iraq by Jan 15, the officials said. Currently there are approximately 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 troops in Iraq.
The Pentagon and White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Sweeping changes at the Pentagon last week have put Trump loyalists in place and knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week that the White House-directed purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact that former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his team were pushing back on a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan that would be carried out before the required conditions on the ground were met.
    Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller sent a seemingly contradictory message to the force on Friday saying the US must continue its battle against al Qaeda and the terrorist forces behind 9/11 while also saying it was time to bring troops home.
    This war isn’t over,” Miller wrote in his message. “We are on the verge of defeating al Qaida and it’s associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish. Inderdaad, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous, and many are weary of warI’m one of thembut this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role,” he wrote in reference to the current US role of supporting counterterrorism campaigns such as the one in Afghanistan.
      All wars must end. Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Nou, it’s time to come home,” Miller added.
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