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article imageOp-Ed: US officials make plans for possible withdrawal from Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Oct 22, 2019 in Politics
Washington - Pentagon officials are quoted by NBC news as claiming they are engaged in prudent planning for a quick withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan should US President Trump decide to do so.
Pentagon officials concerned about Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw in Syria
Trump's decision to withdraw from parts of Syria and to move a number into Iraq apparently caught them by surprise. The officials want to be ready for a withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, military officials typically tend to drag their feet on decisions they do not like. Trump has rejected the recent agreement in principle reached with the Taliban. It would seem unlikely but possible that he would withdraw completely without an agreement of the Taliban with the US and also with Afghan representatives on power sharing. However, the US has been in Afghanistan about 18 years now.
Trump has long campaigned on removing US troops from what he regards as unnecessary wars but there are a number of hawks in his administration who will oppose the President's moves. Some officials consider the planning a dress rehearsal for a pullout from Afghanistan.
A recent article reports: "The contingency planning is ongoing, the officials said, and includes the possibility that Trump orders all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan within weeks. Officials cautioned, however, that the planning is a precaution and there is currently no directive from the White House to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan." Defense Secretary Mark Esper insists that there has been no policy change in Afghanistan.
Esper claims counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan will continue
Esper claimed: “Counterterrorism operations remain critical to our efforts to achieving peace and ensuring terrorist organizations cannot find safe haven in Afghanistan,” said Esper in a joint press briefing with acting Interior Minister Andarabi, Minister of Defense Assadullah Khalid, and Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Esper hailed the contribution of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in providing security for the recent presidential elections in Afghanistan and said that the ANDSF is playing a key role to protect the Afghan people from the senseless violence of the Taliban and terrorist groups.“Regardless of the outcome of the election, our security partnership with Afghanistan will remain strong. Our mission in Afghanistan has not changed, we continue to conduct counterterrorism operations while supporting the development of the ANDSF,” said Esper.
However, Trump can often make quick decisions that his officials seem not to have been aware of and so perhaps the withdrawal plans are prudent as officials claim.
The Syria pullout that will see a number of troops deployed to Iraq will nevertheless leave some troops within Syria but not near the border with Turkey in the safe zone demanded by Turkey.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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