A draw down to Obama-era troop levels in Afghanistan is not enough

August 29, 2019
Contact: press@defensepriorities.org

WASHINGTON, DC—On Thursday, President Trump announced his intention to draw down U.S. force levels in Afghanistan from 14,000 to 8,600 and stated that “you have to keep a presence.” Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman issued the following statement in response:

“President Trump’s decision to leave 8,600 soldiers in Afghanistan is a return to the troop levels of the Obama administration and a reversal of his intention to end Washington’s nearly 18-year war there. Anything short of full withdrawal is a mistake.

“The counterterrorism mission that took U.S. forces to Afghanistan in the first place—to decimate Al-Qaeda and punish the Taliban for harboring those terrorists—was long ago accomplished. Successful counterterrorism there does not require a permanent ground presence, let alone 8,600 troops. That force level only perpetuates the failed nation-building mission.

“U.S. security is protected by its global military capabilities to monitor and eliminate anti-U.S. terror threats, intelligence cooperation, and homeland security. Policing Afghanistan is a separate mission entirely.

“The president was right when he said great nations don’t fight endless wars—President Trump should finally end this one.”

Defense Priorities explainer: Exiting Afghanistan

Defense Priorities explainer: U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan—with or without an agreement