The reduction came despite the unrest in peace talks with the Taliban in September. The reduction of US forces in Afghanistan was a key demand of Taliban negotiators, and President Trump has repeatedly promised to bring US troops home from "endless wars" abroad.
In a draft peace agreement reached between the US negotiators and the Taliban, the Trump administration said it was ready to reduce the number of US troops to 8,600. Just over 1
2,000 US troops are stationed in Afghanistan.
"While working in Afghanistan with our partners, we are always looking to optimize our strength," Miller said. "I am confident that we have the right capabilities to achieve our goals, as well as continue to train, advise and assist nationwide."
Army Colonel Sonia Legget, a spokesman for Kabul's US military service, said the reduction was "a total fall since General Miller took command, "not part of the withdrawal to 8,600 U.S. troops.
"General Miller is doing exactly what I asked all our commanders to do when I took office," Esper told a news conference. "I ask them to look for where they can free up time, money and manpower," Esper said, so the Pentagon can focus on countering China and Russia in line with the country's national defense strategy. He said counter-terrorism and extremism were "also part of this list of priorities."
Talks on peace between the US and the Taliban have not been officially launched, but the US Special Representative for Afghanistan met with Taliban leaders in Pakistan in the beginning of this month. Negotiators have worked for more than a year to reach a deal before it is looted, but many officials in Kabul and Washington have warned that the effort is simply stalled.
Nearly 2,400 US soldiers died in Afghanistan after US intervention in 2001, and more than 20,000 were injured, according to the Pentagon.