The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that seeks to block planned troop drawdowns from Afghanistan. According to a Pentagon statement, the Afghanistan withdrawal is still being executed, despite the NDAA becoming law.
“Currently, no new orders have been issued which impact the progression of the conditions-based drawdown expected to reach 2,500 (troops) by Jan. 15, 2021,” the Pentagon said in a statement to Reuters.
The NDAA amendment aims to stop the drawdown by blocking funds for bringing troops home from Afghanistan until the Pentagon submits an assessment to Congress on how the troop reduction would impact US national security.
The amendment requires the assessment be submitted to Congress as soon the NDAA becomes law, again when troop numbers dip below 4,000, and again when they go below 2,000. But so far, no report has been submitted, and the drawdown continues.
One Pentagon official speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity said the US troop level in Afghanistan is close to 3,000.
President Trump vetoed the NDAA, but both the House and the Senate secured the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto. It was the first time Congress was able to override one of Trump’s vetoes.
The US-Taliban peace deal signed in February 2020 paved the way for all US troops to leave Afghanistan by Spring 2021. It’s not clear if Joe Biden will follow through with the plan. While on the campaign trail, Biden said he could not promise a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq. He said he supports keeping a small counterterrorism force in each country.