Trump orders 7,000 troops to leave Afghanistan
December 21, 2018 - The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing around 7,000 troops from Afghanistan – an abrupt shift in the 17-year-old war there and a decision that stunned Afghan officials.
Afghanistan's military has been in charge of the country's security since 2014 when more than 100,000 NATO troops withdrew. Since then, U.S. forces have provided training and advice, assisting in military operations only when requested by Afghan troops.
However, the Taliban are stronger today than they have been since their ouster in 2001. They control or hold sway over nearly half the country, carrying out near daily attacks that mostly target Afghan security forces.
Since leading the multi-nation invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. has lost more than 2,400 soldiers and spent more than $900 billion in its longest war
In recent months, there has been a renewed effort to make progress on peace talks with the Taliban. Officials now worry that any move to withdraw U.S. troops this year could dampen those prospects and encourage the Taliban to wait it out until they can take advantage of the gaps when U.S. forces leave.
Withdrawing troops would also seem to contradict U.S. President Donald Trump's earlier statements that promised to deny Taliban insurgents advance warning of U.S. military strategy. Trump strongly criticized former President Barak Obama for announcing the 2014 withdrawal nearly a year before troops left.
For many Afghans there is a mixed reaction to the presence of U.S. and NATO troops. Many fear their departure believing it will strengthen the Taliban, yet criticize their presence as having done little to improve the security situation, which has deteriorated in recent years.