Plan would leave 4,500 left in Afghanistan by autumn
Under the US peace deal with the Taliban, the US was to get troop levels in Afghanistan down to 8,600 by mid-July. Drawdowns have been ahead of schedule, and by last week, officials announced they’d already reached 8,600.
That’s not the end of it, and reports are that President Trump has finalized a plan to withdraw another 4,000 or so US troops from the country, with the goal of getting things down to 4,500 remaining by autumn. This would be the lowest US troop level in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion and occupation.
The State Department had long said cuts below 8,600 would be conditions-based, and it wasn’t expected there would be more drawdowns so soon. President Trump was interested in a drawdown for the sake of the election, and probably will emphasize this cuts in the campaign.
Depending on election strategy, this might mean that the troops lefts after this will probably be staying at least until the vote, since it allows the administration to argue that they hadn’t “rushed” to leave Afghanistan but are still drawing down at an impressive rate, as circumstances allow.