The U.S. has completed troop-level drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller announced on Jan 15.
There are now 2,500 U.S. service members in Iraq and 2,500 in Afghanistan. It is the lowest number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan since operations started there in 2001.
The reductions were longtime goals of the Trump administration. The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq follows the successful Iraqi military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“The drawdown of U.S. force levels in Iraq is reflective of the increased capabilities of the Iraqi security forces,” Miller said in a written statement. “We have long anticipated that the force level required to support Iraq’s fight against ISIS would decrease as Iraq’s capability to manage the threat from ISIS improves. Our ability to reduce force levels is evidence of real progress.”
The acting secretary stressed the reduction of American force strength does not mean a change in U.S. policy in the country or region. He added that the U.S. forces will continue to work with Iraqi security forces and forces from the anti-ISIS coalition to ensure the enduring defeat of the terrorist group.
The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has also reached 2,500. At its high point in 2011, there were 98,000 U.S. troops in the country.
“Today, the United States is closer than ever to ending nearly two decades of war and welcoming in an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process to achieve a political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire,” Miller said.
In August last year, there were 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. Miller said the force of 2,500 will give commanders “what they need to keep America, our people and our interests safe.”
The American forces work alongside NATO allies and partners. There are 38 nations that contribute forces — around 10,000 — to the Resolute Support Mission.