Despite media accounts that the United States will soon cut its forces in Afghanistan in half, the Trump administration said Friday that President Donald Trump has issued no orders to his generals to put the much-discussed cutback into action.
After Trump announced that he was bringing American forces home from Syria, speculation arose that a major cut was coming in Afghanistan.
Gen. Scott Miller, who commands international forces in Afghanistan, said Sunday that the speculation about troop cuts was just that.
“You have seen the same rumors I have in the newspapers. But all I would assure you is, first of all, I have no orders, so nothing changed. We are same today as we were yesterday and we will be the same tomorrow,” Miller said during a trip through the Afghan province of Nangarhar, according to the Voice of America.
“But if I do get orders I think it is important for you to know that we are still with the security forces. Even if I have to get a little bit smaller (in troop size) we will be OK. We have thought about this before and we will be able to do the things that you require in terms of support.”
Miller said that a political solution to the conflict is necessary for the Afghan people to ever live in peace.
“My personal preference is that we stop the violence because the people who are paying the price are the Afghan people, in some cases its civilians. But regardless if it’s the Taliban or security forces, the people who are paying the price are the Afghan people.” Miller said.
On Friday, Bloomberg reported that a White House spokesperson told reporters that there has been no change in the official U.S. position.
“The president has not made a determination to drawdown U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and he has not directed the Department of Defense to begin the process of withdrawing U.S. personnel from Afghanistan,” said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
The removal of forces from Syria and the possible reduction in troops in Afghanistan has been controversial. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll showed that 52 percent of those surveyed support the Syria policy and the potential reduction of troops in Afghanistan, The Hill reported.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a statement opposing any reduction in force in Afghanistan.
“The conditions in Afghanistan – at the present moment – make American troop withdrawals a high risk strategy. If we continue on our present course we are setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11,” he said.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, however, took Trump’s side in an interview on Face the Nation.
“We’ve been there 17 years. We think now we’re going to take one more village and we’ll get a better-negotiated deal?” he said.
“Does anybody remember Vietnam? That was the strategy of Vietnam for years after year after year in Vietnam, was to take one more village and we’ll get a better-negotiated deal. No, they waited us out and the Taliban are going to wait us out. They know we will eventually leave and leave we must.
“I mean I don’t think we have enough money to be paying to build and rebuild and build and rebuild Afghanistan. The President’s right and I think the people agree with him. Let’s rebuild America. Let’s spend that money here at home,” he said.
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