Acting US Defence Secretary Christopher Miller has announced plans to reduce US troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying the decision fulfills President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring forces home even as Republicans and US allies warn against a rash withdrawal.
The new plan will accelerate troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan in Trump’s final days in office, despite arguments from senior military officials in favor of a slower, more methodical pullout.
Trump has refused to concede his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20, just five days after the troop withdrawals are slated to finish.
Mr Miller, who refused to take questions from reporters, said the plan will cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from more than 4500 to 2500, and in Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500.
Miller added the US remains ready to respond if conditions deteriorate.
“If the forces of terror, instability, division and hate begin a deliberate campaign to disrupt our efforts, we stand ready to apply the capabilities required to thwart them,” he said.