US Accelerates Plan to Slash Afghan Embassy Staff

Aide: Drawdown to start May 31, end by September

Plans to substantially reduce the staff at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan are going to be started much sooner than previously indicated. What were initially plans for 2020 are now starting at the end of May, and will be completed by September.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends to cut the staff roughly in half, from 1,500 to just over 750. Officials say this is part of a plan to transition the staff elsewhere around the world, focusing on US competition with Russia and China.

This comes just four years after the US spent $800 million expanding the embassy to handle the enormous staff. Analysts are warning that the move will anger Afghan President Ghani, who will view it as a “betrayal.”

The real question though is what impact the staff cuts will have on the peace process, as the US is engaged in very complex negotiations with the Taliban to try to end 18 years of US occupation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.