The U.S. will reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 and in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced on Tuesday.
The announcement confirms one last draw down of American soldiers from the Middle East before President Trump leaves office. The draw down will take place by January 15, just five days before Joe Biden will be inaugurated.
Joining Miller at the announcement, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said the president hopes all remaining troops will leave Afghanistan by May. It is not clear if Biden would follow through on Trump’s withdrawals.
Trump has repeatedly advocated a total withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The U.S. invaded the country shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, aiming to topple the Taliban government and deny Al-Qaeda a safe haven in the country.
While the president has received support from some Republicans including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, others including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida Senator Marco Rubio opposed the move.