The Trump administration is working quickly to shift U.S. policies and, where possible, bind the incoming Biden administration to them.
Why it matters: All of these actions are being taken without any coordination with Biden’s team, which still lacks access to the intelligence and resources typically offered throughout a transition. In most cases, the Trump administration is trying to proactively thwart Biden’s agenda.
The U.S. will lower its troop counts in both Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 ahead of Biden’s inauguration, from 4,500 and 3,000, respectively (both numbers had actually already been minimized greatly this year).
Those announcements originated from acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller because Trump had days earlier removed an obstacle to the troop reductions: Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He also installed followers in essential Pentagon positions.
- Miller’s announcement came regardless of dire warnings from Senate Republicans and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
- Their concern is that an accelerated NATO exit would leave just a susceptible Afghan army to preserve security, which would offer terror groups like al-Qaeda space to operate.
However a decrease to 2,500 troops— not to zero, as Trump had actually promised– is likely a policy Biden can live with.
- He has actually long supported withdrawal from Afghanistan, while keeping open the possibility of leaving a counterterrorism force behind.
Where things stand: The U.S.-Taliban peace deal in February included an understanding that the 2 sides would reduce their attacks on one another.
- But since then, the Taliban has performed more attacks on Afghan targets than during any other duration of the war, while breaking its pledge to cut ties with al-Qaeda, per WSJ
Trump asked his natio