President Donald Trump announced Thursday, Aug. 29, that he will keep a contingent of 8,600 troops in Afghanistan even if there is an agreement with the Taliban.
“We’re going down to 8,600 [from the current 14,000] and then we’ll make a determination from there,” the president said on Fox News Radio, according to VOA.
The Trump administration has held several rounds of negotiations with the Taliban, who were removed from the Afghan government in 2001 by a U.S.-led coalition for harboring al-Qaeda terrorists in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Under the Trump administration, there have already been nine rounds of negotiations aimed at reducing violence in Afghanistan, achieving a cease-fire, and ensuring that Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the United States.
Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would be “premature” at the moment, shortly after the Taliban said it might be reaching a peace agreement with U.S. diplomats, according to the National Review.
“Right now, it’s our judgment that the Afghans need support to deal with the level of violence that is associated with the insurgency today,” Dunford said.
“If an agreement happens in the future, if the security environment changes, then obviously our posture may adjust,” he added.
Earlier this month, President Trump expressed his desire to bring home all U.S. troops from Afghanistan before the 2020 presidential election, thus fulfilling one of his most important campaign promises.
“We’ve been there for 19 years. We’re really serving as policemen,” the president said. “We could win Afghanistan in two days or three days or four days if we wanted, but I’m not looking to kill 10 million people,” he added.
However, the president announced that he will still keep a significant contingent there.
“Oh yeah, you have to keep a presence. We’re going to keep a presence there. We’re reducing that presence very substantially, and we’re going to always have a presence. We’re going to have high intelligence,” the president added.