"Increased military pressure brought the Taliban to the table," Rep. Mac Thornberry told reporters Tuesday, "and pretty much everybody agreed that further reductions would be conditions based.
"In other words, they give and we give. And I don't know of any condition which justifies reducing further the troops that we have in Afghanistan," said the Texas lawmaker, who did not seek reelection.
Thornberry said the White House had not reached out to him to offer any explanation of the recent reports. Outlets including the Associated Press and CNN reported late Monday that U.S. military commanders had received notice to begin preparations for halving the roughly 5,000 troops still in Afghanistan and to withdraw roughly 500 from the 3,000 currently in Iraq. It was not immediately clear how the administration arrived at those numbers for those conflict zones. Several Republican leaders in Congress promptly issued statements criticizing such an action.
Violence in Afghanistan has surged in recent months, though the Taliban appears to have purposefully avoided targeting U.S. forces or their foreign partners there, which would violate the tentative agreement earlier this year that led to a new round of largely unsuccessful talks. The congressionally appointed special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction observed in his latest quarterly report that ...