On Thursday, U.S. officials announced that President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to withdraw half of “more than 14,000” troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post. Earlier this week, Trump also ordered the abrupt and immediate removal of troops for Syria. Both decisions were opposed by the president’s advisors, with senior officials claiming that the Afghanistan decision would “plunge the country into further chaos.”
The Afghanistan directive also comes as the United States attempts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, potentially undercutting leverage that American diplomats have. It marks a significant departure from Trump’s August 2017 decision to slightly increase the number of U.S. troops there and keep them in place with conditions on the ground dictating withdrawal.
This decision also comes alongside the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, claiming that the role should be filled by someone whose views were better aligned with those of the president. Mattis is also credited with opposing the decision to remove troops from Afghanistan.