Top House Republican: ‘It’s Not Possible’ To Leave Afghanistan By Trump’s May 1 Deadline
Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Monday he doesn’t see U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan any time soon.
“To be honest, I’m not in that much of a hurry right now. We’ve got roughly 2,500 troops over there. And I’m fine with them being there for an extended period of time,” Rogers told reporters. “Until they start getting some real confidence that the Taliban is going to hold up their end of the bargain, I don’t see how we get out.”
The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee says he supports keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan as the Biden administration mulls whether to pull forces out by a May 1 deadline https://t.co/4GDsEepdCk pic.twitter.com/7OB8t9ZuuL
— POLITICO (@politico) March 23, 2021
Former President Donald Trump and his foreign policy team negotiated a deal last year that would result in a full American withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021 in exchange for a halt in attacks by the Taliban. The Trump administration was able to successfully reduce troop levels in the country to the lowest level in twenty years, although it was recently reported that there are 3,500 American service members in the country, not the 2,500 previously thought.
President Joe Biden said in mid-March, about a month and a half ahead of the deadline, that it would be “tough” to meet the date Trump committed to for a full withdrawal. Biden is reportedly considering a 60-day extension the deadline, but no decision has been announced yet. (RELATED: Biden’s Pentagon ‘Open’ To Increasing Troop Levels In Iraq)
Rogers said Monday he doesn’t believe it’s possible at this point to meet the May 1 goal. “I’m of the opinion that, physically, if they wanted to leave by May 1, it’s not possible now,” he said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a surprise visit to Afghanistan Sunday, just over a month away from the withdrawal deadline. Austin told his NATO colleagues in February that “the United States will not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.” (RELATED: US Celebrates First Full Year Without Combat Death In Afghanistan)
The Taliban has violated its peace deal with the US since it was signed more than a year ago. In December, the group reached its first written peace deal of any kind with the Afghan government in nearly two decades.