U.S. will remove more troops from the Middle East by the end of the month

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

The U.S. announced that it would reduce its troop presence in Iraq this month by almost half (https://www.npr.org/2020/09/09/911032406/u-s-says-it-will-cut-number-of-troops-in-iraq-by-nearly-half). U.S. forces will now decrease from 5,200 down to 3,000. CENTCOM Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie said, "This decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi Security Forces' increased ability to operate independently." President Trump confirmed this sentiment last month when he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. It is also expected that the White House will reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from 6,500 down to 4,000.

The Trump Administration focused a large portion of their 2016 campaign on putting an end to “an era of endless wars”. While this new measure will bring troop totals under 5,000 for the first time in a while, the number of American soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan has fluctuated throughout Trump’s tenure. Soldiers were initially deployed to Afghanistan in October 2001 and to Iraq in March 2003. Although the Iraq War “ended” in 2011, there has been a constant American presence during the Bush, Obama, and Trump presidencies. Likewise, Operation Enduring Freedom “ended” in 2014, however American troops still remain in the region to this day.

If Trump is able to fully withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan as promised he could receive a large poll boost in time for November. That being said, President Obama promised the same thing back in both 2008 and 2012. While he was able to significantly reduce American presence in the region by the end of his second term, he initially ramped up military efforts in both countries, increasing the total number of soldiers by 50%.

Both the Left and Right have called for an end to the wars over the past almost two decades. Most recently Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would end the war in Afghanistan and remove all troops by the end of the year. The amendment was rejected by the Senate however, delaying the process further. The continued instability of the region will require U.S. intervention without a true end in sight. Regardless of who is elected this November, most Americans would probably agree that U.S. involvement has dragged on long enough.

Image Credit: Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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