White House Will Leave 4,000 US Troops in Afghanistan Beyond 2020 Election

Officials say timetable being driven by the election, not Afghanistan

Having reached the 8,600 troop goal in Afghanistan ahead of schedule, US officials now say they believe that at least 4,000 troops will remain there through the November election. One official said they believed the cuts are now driven by the election, and not Afghanistan.

President Trump has been said to be keen to get troop levels down before the vote, but was so ahead of schedule he would’ve been able to finish it well ahead of November. Instead, it seems like he wants to keep troops, so as to avoid being accused of losing Afghanistan in his first term.

This may be his best of both worlds scenario, allowing him to take credit for the drawdown in the vote, and still have enough troops present to reverse the process and reescalate the war in the future, after it is a political liability.

These comments from the Pentagon reflect complaints that they don’t think the conditions of the pullout were met, nor were they likely to since they didn’t appear to support the pullout in the first place. They are now going to keep criticizing the drawdown, however incomplete, and hope the war once again picks up pace.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.