troop withdrawal
December 15, 2019

The Trump administration is expected to announce the withdrawal of around 4,000 troops from Afghanistan, multiple current and former U.S. officials said. The drawdown — which would reportedly be done in phases over a few months — would ultimately leave between 8,000 and 9,000 U.S. forces in place.

The intended announcement is reportedly part of Washington's negotiations with the Taliban in the hopes that the 18-year conflict in the country will finally wind down, one former defense official told NBC News. The withdrawal is viewed as a concession that could possibly sway the Taliban to promise a cease-fire in return, while still leaving enough troops in the country in case things go sour once again.

"This takes us to the minimum that you have to keep in the country to remain credible negotiating with the Taliban," the former defense official said.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad just rejoined talks with the Taliban this week after they broke down in September; he said Washington will take a "brief pause" from the discussions after the Taliban launched a deadly attack Wednesday near Bagram airfield, but it sounds as if the negotiations will eventually continue.

President Trump has been pushing for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan for some time. The announcement could come as early as next week, but officials said the timing is not set. Read more at NBC News and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads