WASHINGTON—Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Tuesday announced plans to reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying the decision fulfills President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring forces home.
The new plan will accelerate troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan in Trump’s final days in office, despite arguments from senior military officials in favor of a slower, more methodical pullout.
Miller, who refused to take questions from reporters, said the plan will cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from more than 4,500 to 2,500, and in Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500. Miller added that the U.S. remains ready to respond if conditions deteriorate.
“If the forces of terror, instability, division and hate begin a deliberate campaign to disrupt our efforts, we stand ready to apply the capabilities required to thwart them,” he said in a roughly eight-minute statement to reporters in the Pentagon briefing room.
Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said the president is keeping his promise to the American people to get U.S. troops out of war zones. “By May, it is President Trump’s hope that they will all come home safely and in their entirety,” O’Brien told reporters at the White House shortly after Miller made the announcement at the Pentagon.
“I want to reiterate that this policy is not new,” O’Brien said. “This has been the president’s policy since he took office.”
By Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor