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Esper Gives Go-Ahead to Begin Drawdown of American Forces in Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon Monday that he has given the U.S. commander in Afghanistan approval to begin a drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan, MilitaryTimes reports.

Following the signing of a deal with the Taliban on Saturday, the U.S. has agreed to reduce its footprint in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days of the signing and complete a total withdrawal of U.S. forces in 14 months.

That deal is “conditions based,” Esper explained to reporters Monday, but he said the U.S. agreed to start the withdrawal process within the first 10 days of signing the agreement with the Taliban.

There are roughly 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. will reduce its forces to 8,600 over the next several months, then assess the situation and progress of the peace process in Afghanistan, Esper said.

The U.S. could pause or delay the withdrawal of American troops if it believes the Taliban are not living up to their commitments in the agreement, Esper explained Monday.

Esper said he gave the approval to Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the go-ahead to start drawing down forces but he couldn’t confirm if the drawdown had physically commenced yet.

“Let’s get moving," Esper said about his approval to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Esper said his decision to commence the drawdown now was a means to show America’s “full faith and effort” in the agreement with the Taliban.

 


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