National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said on Friday that the Trump administration has a plan to bring troop numbers in Afghanistan down to 2,500 by early 2021, reiterating comments he made last week.
“The President has set a timeline for troop withdrawal; we are going to be down to under 5,000 troops within the next month, and in the early part of next year we’re going to be down to 2,500 troops,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien took a shot at Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who called O’Brien’s estimate “speculation” in an interview earlier this week. “That has been suggested by some that that’s speculation. I can guarantee you that’s the plan of the President of the United States,” he said.
The national security advisor said the Pentagon is working on the plan and that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is onboard. O’Brien also addressed a declaration made by President Trump via Twitter last week that all US troops in the country will be home by Christmas.
“The troops always want to be home on Christmas,” O’Brien said, trying to explain the conflicting timelines. “The president wants them home by Christmas, and what I’ve said on this and I think the president has said as well is that we’d like the troops out as soon as possible.”