President Donald Trump has managed to fulfill several of his key 2016 campaign promises throughout his first term despite constant opposition from the Democratic Party.
Although his vow to bring U.S. troops home from seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has not fully come to fruition, he is set to make new progress in that regard with an order that would cut the number of service members stationed in both countries, according to reports.
Regional missions set to continue
Trump is set to issue the order soon, according to sources cited by The New York Times. In addition to shedding roughly half the troops currently in Afghanistan and a reduction in those serving in Iraq, the plan could potentially include a full withdrawal of American forces from Somalia.
Such an order would not constitute Trump’s first effort to withdraw U.S. troops from perpetual conflict zones in the Middle East.
Prior attempts, however, were met with sharp criticism from the media, blocked in Congress, and denounced even by some national security advisers serving within the Trump administration.
Among the primary reasons critics have panned his proposed withdrawal is the belief that conditions on the ground do not warrant a reduction in troops. Some have warned of elevated violence or civil unrest, echoing similar complaints voiced throughout the past decade or more.
Nevertheless, Trump is reportedly preparing the order to withdraw all the troops referenced therein by mid-January.
“Time to come home”
With between 2,000 and 2,500 troops remaining in Afghanistan, however, the Times noted that they would remain focused on conducting targeted raids against insurgents and terrorist cells.
The fewer than 3,000 remaining in Iraq would reportedly follow a similar mission by coordinating with the Iraqi military and conducting special operations against the remnants of the Islamic State and other jihadists.
Even if all of the troops in Somalia are withdrawn, U.S. forces deployed to nearby Kenya and Djibouti are expected to remain in place to continue the mission of advising and training the Somali military and conducting raids as necessary against terrorist groups.
While reports of Trump’s impending order drew criticism from some top officials at the Pentagon, Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller made it clear in his first departmentwide memo that he is similarly focused on bringing closure to the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Indeed, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous. and many are weary of war — I’m one of them — but this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role,” he wrote. “We are not a people of perpetual war — it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought. All wars must end. Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.”