US acting Def Secy announces troop reduction in Afghanistan

US acting Defence Secretary Chirstopher Miller announced that the US troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced to 2,500 in each country by mid-January.

Miller made the announcement in remarks to Pentagon reporters that highlighted the next step in what he called “President Trump’s plan to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home,” TOLO news reported on Wednesday quoting media reports.

He said that President Donald Trump made the decision to draw down troops in both countries in consultation with his top national security officials and that it did not amount to a change in policy.

Miller said on Tuesday that he was announcing the implementation of Trump’s “orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries,” according to media reports.

Speaking of the conflict in Afghanistan, Miller said that “with the blessings of providence in the coming year, we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home.”

This comes as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that “the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high,” referring to recent reports on Trump administration’s plan to reduce its presence in Afghanistan.

The Defence Ministry on Monday said that the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are capable to defend the country if there is a withdrawal of international forces from the country. But Afghan experts have said the withdrawal should be done responsibly.

Countries in the region, including Pakistan, Iran and Russia have also asked for a responsible withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

The reports come as violence has significantly increased in the country despite peace efforts. Meanwhile, the peace negotiations in Doha have stalled over differences on ground rules for the talks.