By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: In an interview on Sunday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley took questions about his time in quarantine, the military’s role in potential election disputes, the war in Afghanistan and more.
Answering a question on the US national security adviser, Robert O’Brien remarks the other day that he expected a big reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by early next year and then after he made that statement, President Trump tweeted that their troops should be home by Christmas, Milley said that they have a plan, a series of responsible drawdown options that has been briefed to the president.
“I’m not going to go into specific numbers for the future. I think that would be appropriate for me as the chairman to talk specific numbers in future operations, we typically don’t do that. But we have a responsible plan to end the war with U.S. interests clearly in mind. As you know, we the United States government signed an agreement on 28 February.”
He also added: “At that time, we had, roughly speaking, about 12,000, a little bit better, U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That came down to, call it 8,500, 8,600 or so by mid-summer, and we’re on a plan to do a responsible, deliberate drawdown to about 4,500 here very shortly. And then future drawdowns will be determined by the president. And I’m not going to disclose specific numbers and what those are. The whole agreement and all of the drawdown plans are conditions-based, and I expect that we’ll have further discussions on the conditions and ensure that they warrant.
The key here is that we’re trying to end a war responsibly, deliberately, and to do it on terms that guarantee the safety of the U.S. vital national security interests that are at stake in Afghanistan.”
Pointing to another question on conditions-based and exact date of the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US military official added that was the decision of the president on a conditions-based withdrawal. “And as you look at the agreement, the 28 February agreement, one of those conditions is: enter Afghan negotiations. Those are ongoing right now. That’s important. Another one is not attacking U.S. forces; not conducting major attacks in the major urban areas of Afghanistan; severing ties with al-Qaida. And there’s a whole variety of other conditions. So we’re monitoring all of those conditions closely. And we’re, we the military, are giving our best military advice on those conditions so that the president can make an informed, deliberate, responsible decision.”
Pointing to a question of if whether the those conditions for peace talks was being met, he said “Well, the peace talks are happening, they’re not finalized, so I caveat that because they are ongoing in Doha as you know. It depends. It depends on the specific condition and it depends on how you want to measure it. In terms of violence, for example, if you start measuring the violence from, call it four or five months ago, has there been a significant reduction in violence? Answer: not significant. If you measure it from two to three years ago or five years ago, there has been a significant reduction in violence.”