NATO Chief Responds to Trump's Troop Cuts

ISIS could take advantage of the vacuum in Afghanistan, secretary-general says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2020 4:41 PM CST
NATO Chief Responds to Trump's Troop Cuts
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, front left, speaks with President Trump at a NATO leaders meeting last December in England.   (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

President Trump's plan to reduce US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq in the next two months drew a warning Tuesday from NATO. "The price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high," said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, per the BBC. He said Afghanistan could again become a staging ground for terrorist attacks and a place for ISIS to recover from its losses in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said the number of troops in Iraq will be cut by 500, to 2,500; the force in Afghanistan will be reduced by 2,000, to about 2,500. All changes would happen before Trump leaves office in January, the Defense Department said.

Trump wants "to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home," said Chris Miller, the acting defense secretary. US personnel will still train Afghan military, per NPR, so fighting capability may not change much. Taliban flights originate in Kuwait and other nearby nations, and US airstrikes on Taliban forces will continue. All 700 US troops handling training and counterterrorism missions in Somalia would be pulled out, reports the New York Times. But the current plan does not remove US forces from Kenya and Djibouti, where Americans launch drone attacks on targets in Somalia. (More troop withdrawal stories.)

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