New Pentagon chief tells United States troops: ‘It’s time to come home’

Clay Curtis
November 16, 2020

The newly appointed acting defense secretary of the United States, Christopher Miller, in a message signaled that he could expedite the withdrawal of USA troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East, saying that "it's time to come home" and that "all wars must end".

U.S. military commanders are anticipating that a formal order will be given by President Donald Trump as soon as this week to begin a further withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20, according to two USA officials familiar.

On Oct. 7, Trump said on Twitter here "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!" "Now, it's time to come home", the acting defense secretary said in his first remarks to the United States armed forces.

"We met the challenge; we gave it our all", Miller said in the memo, reported earlier by McClatchy news.

"Many are tired of war - I'm one of them - but this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role", the acting defense chief said, without mentioning specific USA deployments.

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Any such action would have to come in the 67 days before Mr Biden takes office on Jan 20. His assessment was based on input from senior military leaders.

He says the USA is committed to defeating al-Qaeda, 19 years after the September 11 attacks on the United States, and is "on the verge of defeating" the group. Thousands of American and allied troops have died in fighting in Afghanistan since then.

The move comes after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced other top officials at the Pentagon with loyalists last week. And they also warn that U.S. forces should remain in the country to keep Islamic State militants in check.

His national security advisor Robert O'Brien has said the goal is to cut to 2,500 by February.

Regardless of what Trump might do, Taliban militants, fighting against the US-backed government in Kabul, have called on the United States to stick to a February agreement with the Trump administration to withdraw USA troops by May, subject to certain security guarantees.

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