Senior US military officials are set to brief Trump in the coming days on options for pulling all American troops out of Afghanistan, with one possible timeline for withdrawing forces before the presidential election, NYT reported.
It said that such a timeline may be Trump’s preferred option because it may help bolster his campaign.
However, military officials also plan to propose, and to advocate, a slower withdrawal schedule.
Pentagon is seeking to avoid a surprise ordering of complete troop withdrawal like the one in Syria where diplomatic chaos and violence followed following the announcement
Senior US military officials believe a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan would effectively doom Washington’s peace deal with the Taliban.
The deal, signed on February 29, stipulated US troops would leave in 12 to 14 months if the insurgent group met certain conditions.
Trump has repeatedly criticized US military presence in Afghanistan saying its role has turned into that of police forces.
On Tuesday, Trump repeated the criticism. “We’re really not acting as soldiers; we’re acting as police. And we’re not sent over there to be policemen. But we’re there 19 years. And, yeah, I think that’s enough. And they understand,” Trump told a press conference.
“We can always go back if we have to. If we have to go back, we’ll go back and we’ll go back raging. And there, we’ll go back as warriors, fighters.”
Asked if the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 26 was a target, Trump said: “No. I have no target. But as soon as (is) reasonable. Over a period of time but as soon as reasonable.”
According to NYT, the Pentagon believes that at least 50 percent of Afghan security forces most likely have coronavirus, which has contributed to Trump’s desire for an early withdrawal.