President Trump’s new Defense chief Christopher Miller signaled a potential U.S. troop reduction ahead in the Middle East in a memo sent to agency staff on Friday, saying, “All wars must end.”
Miller, who took over as acting Defense secretary after Trump fired Pentagon head Mark Esper via tweet this week, wrote that while current conflicts are not over, “We are not a people of perpetual war.”
“As we prepare for the future, we remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaida brought to our shores in 2001. This war isn’t over,” Miller said, referring to the war in Afghanistan.
“We are on the verge of defeating Al Qaida and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish. Indeed, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous, and many are weary of war – I’m one of them,” he continued.
The acting Pentagon chief then wrote that “this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role.”
“We are not a people of perpetual war – it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought,” Miller continued. “All wars must end.”
“Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.”
Speculation has increased that the Trump administration may push to quickly withdraw troops from Afghanistan after the president fired Esper this week, prompting a broader shakeup of Defense Department leadership.
Trump campaigned for the White House in 2016 on a promise to end “endless wars” and bringing back U.S. troops from foreign conflicts, but efforts to draw down the American presence in the 19-year Afghanistan War have proven difficult.
The administration signed a conditional peace deal with the Taliban earlier this year that required a full U.S. withdrawal by May if the Taliban came through on commitments to deny a haven to Al Qaeda, though Trump has reportedly been frustrated by the pace of withdrawal.
The president asserted on Twitter last month that forces in Afghanistan should return to the U.S. by Christmas.
Shortly after his appointment this week as acting Defense secretary, Miller hired Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor to serve as his senior adviser.
The addition of Macgregor, who numerous times in the past year has advocated for the United States to pull its forces from conflicts in the Middle East, has signaled to some an effort by Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from the region in the final weeks of his presidency.
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