WASHINGTON — President Trump’s nationwide safety adviser introduced on Wednesday that america would reduce its troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early subsequent 12 months.

However hours later, his boss contradicted him, suggesting a timeline as early as Christmas and prompting confusion amongst administration officers.

“We should always have the small remaining variety of our BRAVE Males and Ladies serving in Afghanistan dwelling by Christmas!” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter.

Requested in regards to the tweet, a senior U.S. army official was silent for a second earlier than saying, “Oh my God!” The official mentioned he was not conscious of such a choice.

However Mr. Trump typically takes to Twitter to announce coverage, often to the shock of these concerned. The president has forecast troop withdrawals, as an example, even with out apprising the Pentagon, as he did with Syria in 2018 in a transfer that prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The senior U.S. army official, who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate inner assessments, raised questions in regards to the timing of the conflicting feedback on troop cuts in Afghanistan from Mr. Trump and his adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, which got here shortly earlier than the vice-presidential debate began.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. O’Brien forecast a discount to 2,500 service members from the 4,500 that officers had estimated would stay in Afghanistan by November. That quantity, administration officers calculated, would give the president the chance to attempt to inform voters that he had wound down America’s longest struggle. However such a drawdown is prone to be contingent on the result of the election.

“When President Trump took workplace, there have been over 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan,” Mr. O’Brien mentioned throughout an occasion on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas. “As of in the present day, there are underneath 5,000, and that can go to 2,500 by early subsequent 12 months.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, additionally does not favor a significant troop presence in the country. However ought to he win workplace, his administration is prone to conduct a overview of Afghanistan coverage.

Senior army officers have argued all 12 months {that a} fast withdrawal from Afghanistan would successfully doom the peace deal reached in February with the Taliban.

In latest months, Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a need to go away the nation prior to the timeline specified by the Feb. 29 peace agreement with the Taliban, which stipulated that U.S. troops would withdraw in 12 to 14 months if the rebel group met sure circumstances.

The Pentagon has tried to work round a commander in chief who has often shocked the army along with his choices. Taliban and Afghan government-backed negotiators, for his or her half, are nonetheless struggling to advance intra-Afghan peace talks.

Because the discussions have continued, so too has the preventing. In a big tactical shift, the Taliban have carried out focused assaults, like bombings and assassinations, to exert pressure while maintaining deniability for the violence.

In Doha, Qatar, the place the talks are going down, chief negotiators from either side have known as for endurance, however sticking factors stay, like which faculty of Islamic thought to make use of for resolving disputes.

Whereas each events largely agree on utilizing the Hanafi faculty of Islamic thought, one of many 4 main Sunni colleges that can be the inspiration of the present Afghan Structure, they’re at odds on a formulation that doesn’t alienate different sects, significantly the Shia.

“In the end, the Afghans themselves are going to need to work out an accord, a peace settlement,” Mr. O’Brien mentioned. He added, “We expect People want to return dwelling.”

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