President Donald Trump has told his advisers that he wants to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the November 2020 presidential election, according to five current and former administration and military officials, as reported by NBC News.
The president's advisers are now scrambling to meet his election-year deadline, which has exacerbated tensions between officials at the Pentagon and the State Department over the timing of withdrawal and whether it should be completed, the officials said.
"It's tense," said one former official briefed on the debate.
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Last December Trump threatened not only to immediately withdraw all troops from Afghanistan but also to shut down the U.S. embassy in Kabul, complaining to aides that it is too large and expensive, according to officials. The president's threat to close the U.S. embassy — which has not been previously reported — so alarmed administration and military officials that they quickly offered him a plan to move up the timing of efforts to scale back the size of the embassy staff, officials said.
A Pentagon spokesman said the department doesn't comment on military planning. The American troop presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based, the spokesman added.