Maryland lawmakers decry Trump troop drawdown

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In this Aug. 23, 2017, file photo, a patrolling U.S. armored vehicle is reflected in the mirror of a car in Kabul, Afghanistan. An accelerated U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, announced by Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, has rattled both allies and adversaries and raised fears of worsening violence and regional chaos, which some say could embolden the Islamic State affiliate in the country to try to regroup in a lawless Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
syoes@afro.com

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq on Jan. 15, 2021,  five days before he leaves the White House, is being seen by some as part of the 45th President’s “scorched earth” strategy as he refuses to concede he lost the election.

On Nov. 17, the Trump administration announced U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced to 2,500 in each country by Jan. 15. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who recently replaced former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who was fired by Trump via Tweet on Nov. 9, made the announcement at the Pentagon.

“President Trump’s plan is to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home,” Miller said during the press conference, although the acting secretary took no questions from the media.

Trump’s decision is being met with consternation by many who believe the alacrity of the troop withdrawal could be catastrophic in the volatile region of Central Asia.

“Donald Trump’s decision to have thousands of troops removed five days before Biden takes office is impulsive, ill-timed and irresponsible,” said Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-7th), who recently won re-election in a landslide over his Republican opponent Kim Klacik. “For him to make such an announcement just days after ousting the Pentagon chief is a cause for concern. A decision of this magnitude should be guided by prudence, not politics. These hasty reductions run the risk of putting our allies and intelligence community at further risk.”

Maryland’s senior Senator, Ben Cardin (D-MD.), echoed many of Mfume’s concerns.

“President Trump’s decision for a hasty drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan is a mistake that threatens our national security and regional stability. Once again, President Trump has made a rash decision that goes against the recommendation of his senior military leadership,” said Cardin, who is the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in a statement. “Conditions on the ground in Afghanistan do not warrant a further drawdown at this time, as the Taliban has not just failed to uphold its agreement with the United States for peace, but actually stepped up attacks against Afghan forces, threatening the peace process,” Cardin added.

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, said, Nov. 17, the president campaigned “on a promise to put a stop to America’s endless wars.” “Today…President Trump is keeping that promise.” O’Brien added that Trump’s goal is that all remaining troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will exit those countries by May 2021, although by that time Trump will have long exited the Oval Office.

“American troops will leave Afghanistan when the conditions are right,” said Cardin. “But, leaving too quickly risks the region becoming a terrorist safe haven again, puts Americans and allies at risk, and puts into jeopardy the significant progress that has been achieved, including the advancement of rights for women and girls.”