Hundreds of troops will leave, will not be replaced
Just over a week after the signing of the Afghan peace deal, the first few hundreds of US troops are rotating out of the country. The rotation was planned before the deal, but in keeping with the US withdrawal, the troops will not be replaced.
This is just the first few hundred troops leaving out of an estimated 13,000 US troops present in Afghanistan. The plan is to cut troops in the near-term to about 8,600, and officials say this is the official start of a pullout. After this, the goal would be to cut troop levels to zero, ending a 19 year US occupation. The peace deal says this should happen in nine and a half months.
The Trump Administration wanted the troop cuts, deal or no deal, by the 2020 election. Going from 8,600 to zero, under the deal, however, is based on metrics. Indications are that a secret annex to the deal makes this very vague, allowing the US to withdraw from the rest of the pullout at will.
Still, with uncertainty ongoing, the fact that the US is moving forward with the pullout as planned, indications are that the US is at the very least moving to continue its existing position, and isn’t immediately rethinking things.