MONITORING (SW) – US President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced a desire to leave Afghanistan sooner than the timeline laid out in the Feb. 29 peace agreement, the New York Times reported.
It said in a report that senior military officials are set to brief President Trump in the coming days on options for pulling all American troops out of Afghanistan, with one possible timeline for withdrawing forces before the presidential election, according to officials with knowledge of the plans.
The proposal for a complete withdrawal by November reflects an understanding among military commanders that such a timeline may be Mr. Trump’s preferred option because it may help bolster his campaign. But they plan to propose, and to advocate, a slower withdrawal schedule, officials said.
According to the report, the move is part of the Pentagon’s attempt to avoid another situation like the one in December 2018 and again in October 2019, when Mr. Trump surprised military officials by ordering the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Diplomatic chaos and violence followed, and the president subsequently modified each announcement. American troops remain in Syria, although in smaller numbers.
Senior military officials believe a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan would effectively doom the peace deal reached this year with the Taliban.
The Pentagon is expected to try to persuade a commander in chief who has made clear his desire to end America’s involvement in what he has criticized as “endless wars” — and who has regularly surprised the military with his decisions.
The debate also highlights the mounting difficulty facing the February agreement. Political strife, the novel coronavirus and bloody Taliban attacks have almost derailed what little progress has been made since the deal’s signing.
This report is based on conversations with five officials familiar with the debate over the troop withdrawal. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were intended to be private.