Christopher Miller, President Trump's acting Secretary of Defense, announced on Tuesday that the U.S. military will withdraw a significant number of troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq by January 15, 2021.
The U.S. will cut the number of troops in both war-torn countries to just 2,500. That is half the total soldiers currently in Afghanistan and a reduction of 500 in Iraq.
Within moments of the announcement, Iraqi intelligence said at least four rockets were launched at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Trump has consistently said he wants American troops withdrawn from the two countries, but fellow Republican lawmakers have objected to such a quick timeline.
"I believe that these additional reductions of American troops from terrorist areas are a mistake," Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said. "Further reductions in Afghanistan will also undercut negotiations there; the Taliban has done nothing – met no condition – that would justify this cut."
But Miller said he has been in touch with NATO and other allies about the decision, explaining Trump's thought process in making the decision.
"This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government," Miller said. "I have also spoken with our military commanders and we all will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the intelligence community and diplomatic corps, and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace in troubled lands."
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper sent a memo to the White House expressing his concern about the drawdown. He was fired days later and replaced with Miller.
🔦 The withdraws will be complete roughly five days before Democrat Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated.