Esper Wants to Cut US Troops ‘With or Without’ Afghan Peace Deal

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said he wants to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan “with or without” a peace agreement.

The Trump administration is expected to announce plans to withdraw around 4,000 troops from Afghanistan, according to US media, after peace talks resumed a week ago between the US and the Taliban.

Esper told reporters that Austin Miller, the head of the NATO mission and US Forces Afghanistan, “is confident that he can go down to a lower number” of troops.

“At the end of the day, the best solution for Afghanistan is a political agreement” between the government and the Taliban, Esper added.

“But I think we can go down with or without that political agreement.”

Esper said he had not yet ordered any downsizing, noting that the decision was ultimately the responsibility of President Donald Trump.

About 13,000 US troops are currently in Afghanistan, though the number fluctuates according to rotations.
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Latest from Newsfeed; Tuesday, December 17 2019