It appears that the time has finally come for the United States to end its military involvement in the Middle East and bring its troops home, according to Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller, on Saturday. The new Department of Defense chief indicated that the country would work towards fulfilling President Trump’s promise to keep the nation out of “endless wars.”
In a written statement, Miller, who was appointed after Trump fired Mark Esper, explained that the U.S. would continue its fight against radical Islamic terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and others, but that the nation would halt major military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the Washington Times:
“But he also made clear that the American mission must change and that the U.S. military must adopt a more supportive role abroad. His comments strongly suggest that he and other Pentagon leaders will mount an aggressive effort over the next several months to bring the bulk of U.S. forces back from Afghanistan and other nations abroad.”
“As we prepare for the future, we remain committed to finishing the war that al Qaeda brought to our shores in 2001. This war isn’t over,” Miller wrote. “We are on the verge of defeating al Qaeda and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish. Indeed, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous, and many are weary of war — I’m one of them — but this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role.”
“We are not a people of perpetual war — it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought,” he continued. “All wars must end. Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.”
It appears that Trump’s plan is to try to bring as many soldiers home as possible in case former Vice President Joe Biden is dubbed the winner of the 2020 election. The president’s desire to bring the troops home has been met with opposition from military leaders. Some have speculated that it was this conflict that led to Esper’s firing. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned because of Trump’s decision to remove U.S. soldiers from Syria.
In February, the Trump administration ironed out a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The agreement states that the U.S. will pull its troops from the region as long as the Taliban does not provide a safe haven for radical Islamic terrorists. The U.S. had 12,000 soldiers in the country at the time the deal was signed. Now, it has about 4,500. The administration states that the number will be closer to 2,500 by early next year.
However, Trump has stated that he wishes for all forces in the country to be home by Christmas, which is far earlier than the timeframe outlined in the agreement. Biden has also indicated that he would work towards bringing the troops home if he is elected. Still, it’s not easy to trust this promise when the pro-war forces in the Democratic and Republican parties will undoubtedly pressure him to keep the U.S. involved in “endless wars.” If the courts decide that Biden will be the next president, the Trump administration better act quickly. Bringing the troops home before Biden takes office will do more to ensure that the U.S. reduces its military operations overseas as it is unlikely that he would turn around and send them back to these countries.
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