Defense Bill Aims to Halt Drawdown of US Troops in Afghanistan

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2020, file photo Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, center, top U.S. commander for the Middle East, makes an unannounced visit in Kabul, Afghanistan. Six months after a deadly American airstrike in Baghdad enraged Iraqis and fueled demands to send all U.S. troops home, McKenzie is talking optimistically about keeping a smaller, but enduring military presence in Iraq. (AP Photos/Lolita Baldor, File)

A compromise defense policy bill released Thursday includes language aimed at preventing a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan — in direct conflict with President Donald Trump’s order to cut forces there to 2,500 by mid-January, The Hill reported.

The National Defense Authorization Act would block funding to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan until the Pentagon, State Department and director of national intelligence assess the effect on the United States, among other criteria, The Hill reported.

The assessment would be required before troops can drop below the number already there when the bill becomes law — and again before troops can drop below 2,000, according to The Hill.

The compromise, known as a conference report, declares ”it is in the national security interests of the United States to deny terrorists safe haven in Afghanistan, protect the United States homeland, uphold the United States partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, and protect the hard-fought gains for the rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable populations in Afghanistan,” The Hill reported.

In November, Trump ordered the military to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by Jan. 15 — a reduction even as U.S. and military officials have said the Taliban have yet to meet the counterterrorism commitments it agreed to in February.

The U.S.-Taliban deal calls for a full U.S. withdrawal by May 2021 if the Taliban upholds those commitments, The Hill reported.

According to The Hill, the language restricting troop withdrawal is among several rebukes of Trump that made it into the bipartisan NDAA. It also includes language aimed at restraining Trump’s ability to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany, and a requirement for the Pentagon to rename Confederate-named bases.

Via Newsmax

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