US acting Defense Secretary, Christopher Miller on Friday announced the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 personnel.
“Today, US force levels in Afghanistan have reached 2,500. Directed by President (Donald) Trump, and as I announced on November 17, this drawdown brings US forces in the country to their lowest levels since 2001”, miller said in the statement.
Miller added, “Today, the United States is closer than ever to ending nearly two decades of war and welcoming in an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process to achieve a political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,”.
Miller indicated the remaining US troops and commanders are tasked to keep US interests safe in the regions.
“A force of 2,500, commanders have what they need to keep America, our people and our interests safe” Miller said in the statement.
Miller indicated, that United States will continue its mission in Afghanistan.
The acting defense secretary said, “working alongside our NATO allies and partners, the United States will continue to execute both our counterterrorism mission and the train, advise and assist mission in support of Afghan Security Forces working to secure peace in their country. Continued fulfillment of these two complementary missions seeks to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to harbor those who seek to bring harm to the United States of America,”.
“Force reduction is an indication of the United States’ continued support towards the Afghan peace process and our adherence to commitments made in both the U.S.-Taliban agreement and the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration” miller stated.
According to the US acting Defense Secretary the troops levels to zero by May 2021, but full withdrawal is based on the conditions.
Miller called on both Afghan government and the Taliban to demonstrate their commitments to continue the peace process, he said “all sides must demonstrate their commitment to advancing the peace process”.
Further, miller said, “the United States will continue to take any action necessary to ensure protection of our homeland, our citizens and our interests”.
On the other hand, NATO commented over the US troops drawdown, stating that the US made it clear, “they would continue to provide their enablers to our Resolute Support Mission”, but NATO’s position in this regard has not changed.
“We are carrying out our Train/Advise/Assist mission in its current configuration, with a Headquarters in Kabul and four regional commands. We are helping the Afghan security forces in their efforts towards lasting peace, and ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism” NATO stated.
NATO reiterated its continuous support to the Afghan peace process, and as part of the process international troops are ready to adjust presence in line with conditions-based approach.
According to the statement, NATO will assess their presence in Afghanistan based on conditions.
In February of this year, NATO Defense Minsters will talk and discuss their presence in Afghanistan.
The statement concluded “whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a coordinated and deliberate way”.