The former top US commander in Afghanistan has said that withdrawing up to half the 14,000 American troops serving there would reduce the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal after more than 17 years of war.
Retired General Stanley McChrystal on Sunday said the US has basically traded away the biggest leverage point we have. McChrystals comments were in response to reports that President Donald Trump had ordered the Pentagon to develop plans to withdraw thousands of American troops by next summer. Outgoing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis mentioned the order in his resignation letter. Mattis last day in the administration is Monday.
The US and Nato formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but American and allied troops remain, conducting strikes on the Islamic State group and the Taliban and working to train and build the Afghan military.
If you tell the Taliban that we are absolutely leaving on date certain, cutting down, weakening ourselves, their incentives to try to cut a deal drop dramatically, McChrystal said on ABCs This Week.
McChrystal also said hes worried that the Afghan people will lose confidence in the US as an ally that can be counted on.
I think we probably rocked them, said McChrystal, who commanded US and Nato forces in Afghanistan for about a year.
He also was critical of President Donald Trump personally, saying he doesnt believe Trump tells the truth. The comment came when asked what he would say if he were asked to join the Trump administration.
I think its important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it, he said.
When asked if Trump is immoral, McChrystal responded: I think he is.
Its not the first time hes criticized a sitting president. President Barack Obama accepted McChrystals resignation in June 2010 after he made scathing remarks in a magazine article about administration officials, including about Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.