- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Trump administration reportedly will seek to pull as many as 4,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, moving ahead with President Trump’s desired drawdown despite recent high-profile attacks by Taliban fighters.

The move, first reported by NBC News late Saturday, would represent a major reduction in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There are currently between 12,000 and 13,000 U.S. troops in the country.

While military commanders said they haven’t yet received any orders to begin a drawdown, NBC cited administration officials who said that the U.S. seeks to execute a phased withdrawal that will pull troops out over a period of months.

Ending the conflict in Afghanistan — which is now the longest war in American history — is long overdue, some lawmakers argue, and they point to the fact that Mr. Trump so far has failed in his goal of bringing large numbers of troops home from the Middle East.

“Donald Trump has pledged to bring some [troops] out but hasn’t necessarily followed through with it. I think we should leave Afghanistan,” Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

“We’ve needed to come home for more than a decade,” he said. “I don’t want to see one more life lost.”

The administration this month restarted diplomatic talks with the Taliban after a three-month pause. U.S. officials stress that a diplomatic solution is the only way to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan.

But those talks were once again put on pause late last week after Taliban fighters launched an assault on the vital Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. U.S. air strikes ultimately repelled the attack, but at least two Afghan civilians were killed and dozens wounded in the assault.

A string of Taliban attacks in September led Mr. Trump to temporarily pull the plug on peace negotiations and to cancel a planned Camp David summit with Taliban leaders.

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