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Iran Press TV

It's time to leave Afghanistan: Acting US military chief

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 15 November 2020 9:28 PM

Acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller has issued his first public guidance to all Pentagon staff less a week after his appointment, declaring: "It's time to come home" from Afghanistan.

"We are not a people of perpetual war - it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought. All wars must end," Miller emphasized in a two-page memo sent Friday and publicly released on Saturday, adding: "Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it's time to come home."

The announcement came after Trump declared last month via a Twitter post that all US troops would be home from Afghanistan by Christmas (December 25). He was challenged later in the month, however, by US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who insisted that troop withdrawal would be conditions-based, further noting that the US was still awaiting a cease-fire and planned "peace deal" between the Taliban and Afghan government.

Miller, a former "Horse Soldier" and special operations officer who was part of the first contingent of US occupation forces that invaded Afghanistan in 2001, was removed from his job as director of the National Counterterrorism Center and was appointed as the acting Pentagon chief by US President Donald Trump on November 9 after firing former defense secretary Mark Esper.

The ouster of Esper further sparked a rash of firings within the US military establishment and other government agencies following Joe Biden's projected election victory amid speculations that Trump intended to sow instability ahead of the presidential transition.

There were other suggestions that Trump's installation of Miller and his advisers, such as retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor -- an outspoken critic of the US war on Afghanistan -- is part of a desperate effort to conclude the conflict before the end of the year.

Macgregor is also on record as describing Muslim immigrants as "invaders" who want to turn Europe "into an Islamic state," and calling for martial law at the US-Mexico border, insisting that US authorities should "shoot people" if necessary to prevent immigrants from entering the country.

No guideline, timetable for US pullout from Afghanistan

In the new memo, Miller further underlined the need to end the war in Afghanistan, though he did not provide a timeline or offer guidance on how a withdrawal would take place.

A transition in the war -- formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom -- did take place on paper in late 2014 when the US military formally ended combat operations and assigned troops remaining in Afghanistan to act in advise-and-assist roles.

Since then, however, US combat operations have continued in the terror-ravaged country and regions of that American troops had withdrawn from -- such as Helmand province -- have been the destination of new US troop deployments.

"As we prepare for the future, we remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaeda brought to our shores in 2001. This war isn't over. We are on the verge of defeating Al Qaeda and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish," Miller's memo further read.

"Indeed, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous and many are weary of war - I'm one of them - but this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role."

Miller's memo echoed thoughts expressed in his September 10 opinion article published by the Washington Post, in which he claimed the end of the war on al-Qaeda was in sight and the terrorist group – widely believed to have been established and supported by US operatives overseas --was in crisis.

The column further called for decisive efforts to crush the terror group before it could renew its strength, insisting that the US would "end the war on our terms.

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