President Donald Trump, in a message on his military policies, touted his military policies over the past four years.
The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan “are at a 19-year low,” said Trump in a statement on Thursday, touting a key initiative to withdraw soldiers from the country after nearly 20 years.
“Likewise,” the president continued, “Iraq and Syria are also at the lowest point in many years. I will always be committed to stopping the endless wars.”
“It has been a great honor to rebuild our military and support our brave men and women in uniform. $2.5 trillion invested, including in beautiful new equipment—all made in the U.S.A.,” Trump said in a statement.
Last month, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Trump criticized as a bill that goes against his foreign policy positions, namely his efforts to bring U.S. troops back from Afghanistan, South Korea, and Germany. Trump vetoed the bill, but both the House and Senate voted to overcome his veto.
Acting Department of Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in November that he will draw down American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to about 2,500 each.
“I am formally announcing that we will implement President Trump’s orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries,” he said in a news conference at the Pentagon at the time. “I celebrate this day.” The move to draw down troops, Miller said, is due to the president’s “bold leadership.”
Trump, who has long been a critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in 2016 campaigned that he would stop “endless wars” being waged by the United States. In 2018, he wrote that the United States would be pulling troops out of Syria, leading to the resignation of James Mattis, who was serving as Pentagon chief at the time.
In November, Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, the U.S. envoy to Syria, admitted that officials hid the numbers of troops that the United States had in Syria from Trump, suggesting that it was done to keep troops in the country.
“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said in an interview. He added that the real number of troops was “a lot more than” the roughly two hundred troops Trump initially agreed to leave in Syria last year. Jeffries’s admission drew considerable backlash on social media.