The United States may reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan by at least 1,000, a US general says, attributing the decision to an efficiency drive by a new commander of NATO forces in the Asian country.
US Army General Joseph Votel, the head of the US military’s Central Command, said the decision to cut some of the roughly 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan would be part of an effort by Army General Scott Miller — who assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan last September — to make better use of US resources.
“This is something that he (Miller) started as he got into the position here and was looking at how we (can) be as efficient and as effective as we can be on the ground,” Votel said in an interview with Reuters during a trip to Oman on Friday.
The decision comes as the US has been holding talks with the Taliban militant group aimed at putting an end to the war in Afghanistan, which began with the US-led invasion in 2001.
The Taliban have claimed the US has promised them to withdraw half of its troops from Afghanistan, although the timing for that purported pullout has not been finalized.
PressTV-Taliban: No agreement with US on troop pullout deadlineTalks between the Afghan militant group Taliban and the US government have failed to result in a deal on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
According to Votel, though, the decision about the 1,000 forces is not linked to the talks with the Taliban.
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump told Congress that he intended to bring home US forces from Afghanistan as negotiators made progress in talks with the Taliban militants.
Votel did not give a specific estimate of exactly how many forces may be withdrawn, but he answered a question of whether Miller would likely cut over 1,000 troops from Afghanistan under the efficiency drive by saying, “He probably will.”
He also said some forces could be moved “over the horizon,” supporting the war effort from overseas.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.