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14 Nov, 2020 18:53

'All wars MUST END': Trump's new acting defense secretary signals withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

'All wars MUST END': Trump's new acting defense secretary signals withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller is apparently preparing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, saying the conflict "isn't over," but adding that "all wars must end."

“This is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role,” Miller said on Friday in a letter to all Department of Defense employees. “We are not a people of perpetual war. It is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought. All wars must end.”

The letter came just four days after President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced him with Miller, who was previously director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Miller was among four Trump loyalists who replaced top civilian officials at the Pentagon on Monday, just two days after mainstream media outlets declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the November 3 election.

Trump is challenging the election results in court, based on allegations of fraud by voters and election officials, but he also appears to be acting with increased urgency to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise of ending the war in Afghanistan, which has now dragged on for 19 years – making it the longest in the history of the US.

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Trump had clashed with Esper over several issues, including using military forces to quell riots in US cities, and administration officials allegedly subverted such orders as the commander-in-chief’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. Jim Jeffrey, US envoy to the global coalition against Islamic State, told Defense One on Thursday that Trump’s own diplomats played “shell games” to hide the true number of American forces in Syria.

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Miller said ending wars requires compromise and partnership. “We met the challenge; we gave it our all,” he wrote in the letter. “Now, it’s time to come home.”

Media outlets, such as Sinclair Broadcast Group, suggested that the Pentagon shakeup might signal Trump’s intent to take “drastic steps” in his final days in office, including a “rapid and risky” withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. MSNBC's Barry McCaffrey called the move “extremely alarming” and “dangerous behavior.”

Washington Post reporter Dan Lamothe wrote that, as Trump “agitated for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Esper sent the White House a memo this month recommending that the US keep its troop count in the Central Asian country at 4,500. Days later, he was fired.

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