Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller has made it official: the U.S. military will draw down forces in Afghanistan and Iraq by Jan. 15, 2021. Forces will be cut in half in Afghanistan to 2,500, and by 500 troops in Iraq to 2,500, Miller said.
This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months, Miller said. “I have also spoken with our military commanders and we all will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women,” he added.
Elements of the 82nd Airborne Division in the region could be among the troops to come home. President Trump has called for American troops to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan since he assumed office in 2017. The troop drawdown will be completed just five days before President-elect Joe Biden’s planned inauguration.
The order was announced days after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced him with Miller. Shortly before his firing, Esper sent a classified memo to the White House in which he expressed concern about the accelerated timeline for a troop withdrawal.
Pictured: A Paratrooper assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division provides security during a key leader engagement earlier this year in southeastern Afghanistan. (Photo by Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea, courtesy of DVIDS)