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Iran Press TV

Congress moves to block US troop pullout from Afghanistan, Germany

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 06 December 2020 3:27 AM

US President Donald Trump's controversial move to pull out 2,000 American troops out of Afghanistan and 12,000 more from Germany would be blocked by the major defense policy bill, a report has said.

One provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2021 "would block funding for reducing the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by January 15, as ordered by Trump, until the Defense and State Departments verify that it was in the national interest," news outlet reported Saturday.

Another provision of the NDAA, it added, essentially urges the incoming Biden administration to take a second look at Trump's executive order to withdraw 12,000 American troops from Germany.

According to the bill, troop levels in Germany should remain at 34,500 until 120 days after the secretary of defense submitted cost estimates and assessments of the impact of a withdrawal on allies and military families.

The final draft of the NDAA -- released Thursday night -- underlines that Afghanistan pullout orders, announced by the newly-appointed Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on November 17, "gave Congress no estimate of the national security implications."

According to the report, the Trump administration has so far failed to clarify how a troop withdrawal was "in the national security interests of the United States to deny terrorists safe haven in Afghanistan, protect the United States homeland."

Trump's announcement last June that he wanted 9,500 troops out of Germany after years of battling with NATO allies to spend more for defense has also drawn opposition from both ruling political parties in the US Congress.

On July 29, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper declared plans to carry out Trump's order that increased the number of US soldiers to be withdrawn from Germany to 12,000.

Some of those troops would return to the US, while others would be transferred to Poland and the Baltic states in a shift eastward to enhance NATO's purported deterrence against Russia, Esper claimed at the time.

The report further pointed out that NDAA provision on Germany "means that final decisions on a troop withdrawal could go to Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of Defense for Policy who is considered a frontrunner for defense secretary in the Biden administration."

Flournoy, the report added, has already stated that pulling thousands of troops out of Germany would likely cost more than leaving them in place. He also underlined in an Aspen Security Forum in August that "Our allies were completely surprised by this punitive troop withdrawal from Germany."

Moreover, once Biden is inaugurated on January 20, he would have the authority to issue his own executive order reversing Trump's withdrawal mandate.

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