(Source: DefenseOne.com – By Katie Bo Williams) –  Thousands of US Troops Will Remain in Afghanistan Past Christmas

National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien on Friday said that some 2,500 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond Christmas, seeking to clarify a series of mixed messages from senior Trump administration officials and dismissing a tweet from the president last week. (…)

O’Brien reiterated on Friday that the United States intends to draw down to 2,500 troops in early 2021. Asked directly about the three contradictory answers, O’Brien said that Trump’s tweet was merely expressing wishes of  any wartime president.

“He was expressing the same desire that every president since the Revolutionary War has said. All presidents, all GIs, want the troops home by Christmas,” he said. “We’re on a path right now that looks like about 4,500 this fall and a smaller number in January or February — but if the conditions permit it, we’d love to get people out earlier.”

Another complicating factor is Trump’s chances of reelection next month, a prospect O’Brien called “tough” even as he listed the administration’s foreign policy goals and plans for the next four years. In past presidential transitions since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, the incumbent deferred major strategy changes and troop movements to the incoming new commander in chief. (…)

Over the past six months, the United States reduced the number of its troops in Afghanistan first to about 8,600, in accordance with a deal brokered with the Taliban and signed in February. That deal envisioned the immediate drawdown from 14,000 to 8,600 troops by the summer, and a complete U.S. withdrawal within 14 months, if the Taliban lived up to their end of it.  (…)

Read Full Article >>> www.defenseone.com

Photo © Soldiers conduct security following an advise-and-assistance mission Sept. 17, 2019, in southeastern Afghanistan, Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea/Army, as published in >>> https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/07/19/number-of-american-troops-in-afghanistan-drops-to-8600-as-taliban-make-big-changes-ahead-of-expected-talks/