The Pentagon announced a residual force of 2,500 troops in each of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on Tuesday. Christopher Miller, the recently installed acting defense secretary, hailed the reduced levels as “the next phase of our campaign to defeat terrorists,” while suggesting it represented a “successful and responsible conclusion” to generation-long wars. Most of the reductions will come in Afghanistan, where troop levels are currently around 5,000; there are only about 3,000 in Iraq. It was unclear from Miller’s announcement what will happen to the nearly 1,000 U.S. forces in Syria, as well as additional forces in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. A diplomatic accord between the U.S. and the Taliban, signed in February, requires U.S. departure by May 2021, though it remains to be seen if President-elect Joe Biden will assent to the deal or its timetable.
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