Trump renews his desire for a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan
Trump on Tuesday renewed his desire for a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan but added that he had not set a target date, amid speculation he might make ending America's longest war part of his re-election campaign. "We're there 19 years and, yeah, I think that's enough... We can always go back if we want to," Trump told a White House news conference.
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday his country should no longer be a police force in Afghanistan after 19 years, calling for a withdrawal of troops.
"We are acting as a police force, not the fighting force that we are, in Afghanistan. After 19 years, it is time for them to police their own Country," Trump said on Twitter.
Trump noted that Washington would continue to closely monitor Afghanistan without having a military presence, eyeing a stronger return if needed.
"Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with a thunder like never before, if necessary!" he said.
TRUMP WANTS TROOPS TO RETURN HOME BEFORE ELECTIONS
Trump has been pushing American troops to return to the US in recent months, sooner than the timeline agreed to with the Taliban in a Feb. 29 peace deal.
According to a report published Tuesday by The New York Times, five senior officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon is setting up a plan to present Trump in coming days with a target of withdrawing troops before the November elections.
Officials said the complete withdrawal by November would help bolster Trump's election campaign, however, the Pentagon plan prefers a slower approach to avoid a similar situation that occurred in Syria where small numbers of US soldiers remained after a complete withdrawal was ordered due to an increase in violence.
They also believe a quick withdrawal would doom the peace deal because it has a timeline of 12 to 14 months if the insurgent group met certain conditions.
The US has less than 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and the process to reduce it to 8,600 continues as part of the deal.
VIRUS IMPACT ON SECURITY FORCES ANOTHER REASON FOR WITHDRAWAL
US officials told the newspaper that the coronavirus is a reason why the Trump administration is searching for ways for early withdrawal, citing the lack of methods to check the spread of the virus throughout Afghanistan after it crossed into its western neighbor, Iran.
The Pentagon believes at least 50% of Afghan security forces are likely infected, "meaning that any training and joint operations between United States and Afghan forces have been paused, halting a key pillar of the American war effort," officials said.