Like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, U.S. officials have a five-year plan — for ending America's longest war, that is.
- The New York Times reports that a new U.S. government plan would see the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in the next three to five years, with half of the 14,000 American service members currently deployed there headed home "in coming months."
- The plan would also see the 8,600 European and Australian forces take over the train, advise, and assist mission that's been a cornerstone of the NATO presence there for the last, with U.S. military personnel increasingly focused on "counterterrorism strikes" against militant targets, according to the Times.
- The Times' account of the withdrawal plan, described as "offered in peace negotiations with the Taliban," is based on details shared with reported "by more than a half dozen current and former American and European officials."
- But Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Koné Faulkner flatly denied the report a statement to Task & Purpose: "As peace talks with the Taliban continue, DoD is considering all options of force numbers and disposition, but no decisions have been made at this time."
Task & Purpose Pentagon correspondent Jeff Schogol contributed reporting