(CNN) — Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller announced Tuesday that the United States will reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 and 2,500 in Iraq by January 15, 2021. Miller said this troop repositioning “does not amount to a change ‘with policies or objectives.
There are currently approximately 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 troops in Iraq.
CNN reported Monday that this announcement was expected.
A senior defense official said the announcement is “consistent” with what President Trump announced publicly earlier this year and is “consistent with his promise to the American people.”
The sweeping changes at the Pentagon last week left Trump loyalists in the job and insiders told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week that the White House-led purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact that former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his team were rejecting a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan that would take place before the required conditions on the ground were met.
The official said there is “no reduction in capacity,” calling the change a “collaborative” decision, and declined to address a recent Pentagon memo that said conditions on the ground in Afghanistan did not justify further reductions.
Before his firing, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper sent a classified memorandum earlier this month to the White House stating that it was the unanimous recommendation of the chain of command that the United States not further reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan until conditions were met, sources familiar with the memo told CNN.