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Former ambassador weighs-in on potential troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, Iraq

The Associated Press contributed to this report


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Pentagon has reportedly sent commanders a “warning order” telling them to begin plans to reduce the number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the planned order, the troop cuts would be completed just five days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

There are about 4,500 troops in Afghanistan and about 3,000 in Iraq. The order would reduce the number to 2,500 in each country.

RELATED: AP sources: Trump to order troop cuts in Afghanistan, Iraq

Nancy Soderberg was a deputy national security advisor and America’s ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton Administration. She offered her feelings on the report.

“I think what’s going to happen is, President Trump very much wants to have more of them home but it’s got to be done in a responsible manner. And if you pull them too quickly out of either place you put our embassy at risk, and you put our goals at risk,” Soderberg said.

While Soderberg calls it a tough decision and a bit of a balancing act, she says the president has to make sure the lives lost over the almost two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan were not lost in vain.

“I think the president’s right to say it’s time to bring these troops home, these endless wars need to end,” Soderberg said. “But we need to not have it determined by any kind of date but rather the conditions on the ground.”

Trump on Oct. 7 tweeted that “we should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas.” When asked about those comments, Robert O’Brien, his national security adviser, said Trump was just expressing a hope.

The accelerated withdrawal goes against the longstanding advice of Trump’s military leadership, including Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, top U.S. commander for the Middle East. But officials suggested that commanders will be able to live with the partial pullout, which allows them to keep counterterrorism troops in Afghanistan and gives them time to remove critical equipment from the country.


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