President Donald Trump is yet to make a final decision on the possible withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, The Washington Post quoted two senior White House officials as saying.
"Trump still wants to remove troops from Afghanistan — eventually all of them — but the current withdrawal probably will be far fewer than 7,000," the officials pointed out.
They also said that military advisers managed to convince Trump that "a smaller and slower withdrawal is best for now", adding that the US president may order a full exit "at any moment".
"Trust me, he's heard every single argument on Afghanistan he could hear," one of the officials noted. He added that Trump bemoans the fact that many of his advisers want him to stay in "all these wars forever".
Other officials familiar with the plan were cited by the Washington Post as saying that the number of the US troops to be pulled out could be about half of what Trump was initially seeking. The officials later declined to elaborate.
In this context, the newspaper also referred to Senator Lindsey Graham who warned that an immediate pull-out "would be an unmitigated disaster because Afghanistan is the centre of gravity in the war on terror".
"The first reduction, which accounts for half of the 14,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan, could mark the start to the end of American involvement in the 17-year war," the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the full withdrawal could take many months.
In August 2017, Trump announced that he had decided to add 3,000 troops to the US mission in Afghanistan as part of his South Asia Strategy.
He pledged that "America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress".
"However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited.We will keep our eyes wide open," Trump pointed out.
While most of the US troops had left the country by the end of 2014, NATO launched a new mission in 2015, called Resolute Support, to provide training and assistance to Afghan security forces.
Over 16,000 soldiers from 39 NATO countries are currently serving in Afghanistan as part of the mission, with the majority of the contingent from the US.