The United States on Tuesday announced to reduce its troops' presence in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 each by January 15 next year.
"By January 15, 2021, our force size in Afghanistan will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same day," Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said during a live press conference.
The United States has around 4,500 troops currently in Afghanistan and over 3,000 in Iraq, according to CNBC.
"This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government," Miller told reporters at the Pentagon.
The "repositioning" of the US forces were being done on the orders of President Donald Trump, he said, adding that the decision was taken after consulting with key leaders in the Congress , NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and Afghanistan's President Ghani.
"Just this morning, I spoke with key leaders in Congress as well as our allies and partners abroad to update them on these plans in light of our shared approach. We went in together, we adjust together and when the time is right, we will leave together," said Miller.
NATO chief's dissent
The announcement on the heels of the NATO chief's warning against leaving the war-torn country too soon. He said that an uncoordinated effort could cause unintended consequences for the world's largest military organization.
"Afghanistan risks of becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands. And ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq," said NATO chief Stoltenberg said, reported CNBC. On the contrary, Miller said that the US has destroyed the ISIS caliphate.
According to the US news outlet, NATO joined the international efforts in Afghanistan in 2003 and has more than 7000 security personnel in the country where the Taliban is gaining strength.