Esper: U.S. to start initial troop pullback from Afghanistan

Secdef Mark Esper

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he has given the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan the go-ahead to begin the initial withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Esper said he was not sure whether it began Monday but said Gen. Scott Miller in Kabul has the authority to begin now.

Speaking alongside Esper at the Pentagon Monday, the U.S. military’s top general said there’s no expectation that violence in Afghanistan will “go to zero” quickly, following the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement announced on Saturday.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would be unrealistic to think that violence would stop immediately.

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