General Says Coronavirus Could Keep US Troops From Leaving Afghanistan

Suggests troops might be safer in Afghanistan

Fresh off the US peace deal with the Taliban, troops should be starting to leave Afghanistan. With the coronavirus outbreak, however, quarantine procedures may be preventing many from returning to the US.

Pentagon officials say protecting the US force from the virus is the top priority, and some are suggesting that they’d be safer holed up in Afghanistan rather than returning to the US and facing the pandemic.

This probably isn’t a great argument, because officials had conceded in recent weeks that troops in Afghanistan had symptoms, and the number with coronavirus there is probably artificially low because the Pentagon lacked testing for the troops deployed there.

It might make sense for those exposed to the virus in Afghanistan to not be immediately returned to US bases, but slowing the pullout in general both risks the peace and makes little practical sense given the symptoms US troops have been reporting in Afghanistan.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.