U.S. Marines conduct a security patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, during Operation New Dawn, June 20, 2010.
U.S. Marine Corps photo
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is evaluating a range of options for the eventual withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
It would be a colossal effort that could occur as soon as the November presidential election, according to The New York Times.
President Donald Trump, who campaigned on removing the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, took to Twitter on Wednesday to say that America’s role in the war-torn country has been reduced to a “police force” and not a “fighting force.”
“After 19 years, it is time for them to police their own Country. Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with a thunder like never before, if necessary!” wrote Trump, who is facing a challenge from apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the former vice president.
The Pentagon would not give specifics on how many U.S. service members were currently serving in Afghanistan nor the options under consideration by the White House.
“I think it’s been clear for some time that the U.S. has been looking at different options and how we are going to continue with our presence in Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters at the Pentagon. “I would not share with you what potential options that we would be discussing with the president though,” he added.
“The bottom line is, we have said for many, many months and years now that the future of Afghanistan is going to be best suited for peace when there is an agreement between the inter-Afghan parties,” Hoffman said.
When asked by reporters during a White House event, Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. could go back to Afghanistan if needed.
“We can always go back if we have to. If we have to go back, we’ll go back, and we’ll go back raging,” he said.
U.S. Marines and Georgian Army soldiers run to the extraction point during Operation Northern Lion II in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 3, 2013.
U.S. Marine Corps photo
Earlier this year, the United States brokered a peace deal with the Taliban that would usher in a permanent cease-fire and reduce the U.S. military’s footprint from approximately 13,000 to 8,600 by mid-July.
The collective wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $1.57 trillion since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a Defense Department report.
The current U.S. military operations, designated Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq, and Operation Noble Eagle, have accounted for $266 billion of that sum.
Of the three current operations, Freedom Sentinel takes the lion’s share of costs at $193 billion.