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In letter to Trump, GOP lawmaker pushes for withdrawal of US troops

November 12, 2020
In The News

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., is calling on the Trump administration to "strategically" withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a Veterans Day letter to President Trump, Biggs wrote that while he commended previous efforts to bring engagements in the countries to a close, he urged the president to continue with ambitious plans to remove thousands of service members from the countries. 

"Having now lasted over 19 years, the war in Afghanistan has been the longest overseas conflict in American history," Biggs wrote. "But, sadly, the situation on the ground today looks much the same now as it did back in 2001, with the Taliban in control of much of the country."

"And then there is Iraq. Over the last 18 years, our forces toppled Saddam Hussein’s government and successfully fought terrorists of many different stripes in Iraq, including the Islamic State. But these achievements have simply not been worth the cost," he continued. 

Biggs said the U.S. fell into costly "nation-building, 'peacekeeping'" traps in both Afghanistan and Iraq even after combat operations had ended.

"Nation-building doesn’t work, as you immediately recognized upon taking office: Afghanistan and Iraq today are clearly not beacons of democracy, stability or prosperity, despite the thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars we have sacrificed to try to remake these countries," he asserted, adding that current standings are an "indictment" of Washington's "broken foreign policy establishment."

"I commend your efforts so far to bring our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq to an end, including your bold decision to open negotiations with the Taliban and your ambitious plan to remove thousands of United States service members from these two countries," Biggs concluded. "I urge you to continue to aggressively pursue these and all other related efforts in the coming weeks." 

As The Hill reported Wednesday, Biggs has long been a critic of prolonged military presence in the regions.

President Trump has repeatedly said he would like to see a full withdrawal from Afghanistan

In an October tweet, the president wrote that the "small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan" should be "home by Christmas."

Reacting to the tweet, defense officials – pushing a more methodical approach amid peace talks with the Taliban and a resurgence of ISIL attacks – said a plan had not yet been laid out to pull those troops within that timeframe. 

Although the issue had been a piece of the president's reelection campaign, this week's shakeup at the Pentagon could ensure the president and Biggs get their holiday wish

According to Politico, officials say Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired partly because of his opposition to the acceleration of troop withdrawals across the globe. Three high-level civilians resigned following Esper's firing and the appointment of new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor as a special adviser to Miller, raising further questions about future military actions.

Earlier this year, Macgregor told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that President Trump could “take decisive action” and pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

The U.S. currently has about 60,000 troops in the Middle East.