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Why didn’t Biden leave 2,500 troops in Afghanistan?

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WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Taliban’s lightning-fast takeover of Afghanistan after US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops by August 31 has critics asking: why didn’t he just leave 2,500 troops there to fortify the now-fallen government?

That was how many US forces remained in the country when Biden took office in January, after his predecessor Donald Trump slashed their numbers from 15,000.

In appearances, the 2,500 troops and 16,000 US civilian contractors behind them, seemed to have been enough to keep the Afghan government in power in the year after Trump signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban insurgents on February 29, 2020.

Trump set a final pullout date of May 1, 2021, and even tried to speed that up.

While the Taliban stepped up attacks on Afghan government targets, their gains remained limited to non-strategic rural areas.

But, abiding to the agreement, their attacks on US and NATO forces meanwhile almost dried up. No US soldier was killed after Trump’s deal.

Critics argue this showed that, when backed by a skeleton US force, Kabul could hold the line against the insurgents.

A battlefield stalemate was more desirable than a full Taliban victory, they said.

“We only had 2,500 troops there, light touch, no chaos, not a single American soldier killed in a year in combat,” top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said this week.

He urged Biden to increase support for Afghan troops rather than leave.

“If we let the Taliban dominate........

© The Times of Israel

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