ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - President Donald Trump has renewed his resolve to "bring our soldiers back home" from Afghanistan, publicly questioning again the goal of the current U.S. military mission to the war-torn country.
Trump reiterated his intention amid reports that the ongoing U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan "is well ahead of schedule" outlined in a landmark peace-building pact the United States signed with the Taliban in late February to end the nearly 19-year-old Afghan war.
"We are acting as a police force, not the fighting force that we are, in Afghanistan," Trump tweeted Wednesday. After 19 years, it was time for Afghan authorities to police their own country, he wrote.
"Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with a thunder like never before, if necessary!" Trump added.
Under the Feb. 29 U.S.-Taliban agreement, Washington has committed to reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan from about 13,000 to 8,600 by mid-July before withdrawing all troops, along with several thousand partners in a NATO-led non-combatant mission by mid-2021.
The drawdown started within days of the signing of the agreement in Qatar, and U.S. military officials say the process has since been on track.
In return, the Taliban is committed to preventing terrorist groups from using Afghanistan for international terrorism. It has also promised to reduce battlefield violence and engage in a political reconciliation process with other Afghan stakeholders to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and power-sharing arrangement in post-war Afghanistan.