Washington — The Pentagon recently began drafting plans for an abrupt withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in case President Donald Trump surprises military leaders by ordering an immediate withdrawal as he did in Syria, said three current and former defense officials. Contingency planning is ongoing, officials said, and includes the possibility of Trump ordering all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in a matter of weeks.
However, officials cautioned that planning is a precaution and that there is currently no White House directive to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.One of the officials called it «cautious planning.» Another official described the president’s current approach to Syria as «a general test» of what could happen in Afghanistan.
Trump has threatened to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, but his repeated emphasis in recent weeks on the need to end all foreign wars has instilled a new sense of urgency in the Pentagon’s renewed effort, Authorities said. The president’s abrupt policy shift in Syria has also shown that he is willing to comply with his threats of troop withdrawal, although his advisers have been able to deter him from such movements in the past. And it coincides with a growing focus on the 2020 election.» I was elected to take our soldiers back home,» Trump told reporters monday. To underscore the point, the president said the biggest applause he received during a campaign rally in Dallas last week was when he talked about the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and the return of U.S. troops.» When I said, ‘We’re bringing our soldiers back home,’ the place went crazy,» Trump said. Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon regularly assesses the number of troops abroad and provides advice to the president. «The Department of Defense has no orders to withdraw troops in Afghanistan and our mission has not changed,» Campbell said.
U.S. force levels in Afghanistan remain condition-based and will continue to reflect the level required to execute our mission, he said.
This includes «ensuring that Afghanistan is never again used as a safe haven for terrorists who threaten the United States, our allies.» or our interests.» When Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked during a surprise visit to Afghanistan Monday if Trump could pull all U.S. troops out of the country, Esper compared the situation to Syria, explaining that they are very different missions.
Very different situations, very different adversaries if you will, very different level of commitment. Very clear political direction in one, said Esper.
«All of these things should reassure Afghan allies and others, they should not misunderstand our actions in the region in the last week or so with regard to Syria and contrast that with Afghanistan.» Trump made it clear to his advisers that he wants to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan for the 2020 election, NBC News reported in August.
Original source in Spanish