- Two US service members were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement.
- Their deaths bring the total number of US service member deaths in country to 14, one short of last year’s total.
- On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump directed him to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan by the 2020 election.
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Two US service members were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission announced in a statement.
The details of their deaths were not provided, and the names of the two service members are being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin has been notified. Following the death of another US service member earlier this month, the latest deaths bring the number of US dead in Afghanistan this year to 14, just under last year’s total of 15 fatalities.
Speaking in Washington, DC, on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that President Donald Trump ordered him to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan by the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported.
"That’s my directive from the president of the United States. He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars," Pompeo said. "We hope that overall the need for combat forces in the region is reduced."
The US is working to secure a negotiated peace with the Taliban, an insurgent force the US military has been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 years. The deal would likely involve the reduction of US forces in country — something military officials have warned might hinder counterterrorism operations.
US Army/Sgt. Christopher McCullough
"We think there’s a path to reduce violence, achieve reconciliation and still make sure that the American counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan has value and the potential to reduce risk in the United States," Pompeo said Monday.
Trump recently suggested that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week — 10 days tops — but he would have to kill 10 million people, roughly one-third of Afghanistan’s population.
"If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week," he said last Monday. "I don’t want to kill 10 million people. I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone. It would be over in literally 10 days."
In that same exchange with the press, Trump disparaged the US mission in Afghanistan, lamenting that the US forces in country are serving as policeman rather than soldiers: "We’ve been in there not fighting to win, just fighting to — they’re building gas stations. They’re rebuilding schools. The United States, we shouldn’t be doing that."
Explaining that US troops have done what they were sent there to do, Trump expressed his well-known desire to "extricate" US forces from the quagmire that is the war in Afghanistan.
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