US has been reducing troop strength in Afghanistan, commander says
KABUL — The United States has reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan over the past year, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan announced Monday, despite the abrupt end last month of peace talks with the Taliban that centered on a draw-down of American troops.
"Unbeknownst to the public as part of our optimization . . . we reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here," Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller said at a news conference in Kabul, alongside Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who is visiting Afghanistan for the first time since he took office.
There are around 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, Army Col. Sonny Leggett. When Miller took command in Afghanistan last year, troop levels were at 15,000.
Much of the reduction came from U.S. command headquarters in Kabul, Leggett said.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly pledged to bring U.S. troops home from "endless wars" abroad. In a draft of a peace deal reached between U.S. and Taliban negotiators, the Trump administration said it was prepared to reduce the number of American troops to 8,600.
Leggett said the reduction was "an aggregate drop since General Miller took command" and not part of the drawdown to 8,600 American troops.https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/us-has-been-reducing-troop-strength-in-afghanistan-commander-says-1.603993