The United States military has not had any combat deaths in Afghanistan for a year, with the last deaths coming shortly before former President Donald Trump brokered a peace deal with the Taliban.
The last U.S. military combat deaths occurred on Feb. 8, 2020, when Army Sgts. 1st Class Javier Gutierrez and Antonio Rodriguez were killed in action.
Shortly after those deaths, the Trump administration and the Taliban agreed to a peace deal that would see U.S.-led forces withdraw from the country by May 1, 2021. The deal is contingent on the Taliban holding up their end of the bargain, including an agreement not to attack foreign troops and to ban terrorist groups such as al Qaeda from using the country as training grounds to launch attacks, much like they did in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks.
There was also an apparent side deal agreed to verbally for the Taliban to reduce overall violence in Afghanistan, but that provision is not present in the text of the agreement signed last year.
The deal faces an uncertain future now that President Biden is in office, with a congressional panel releasing a report last week that said a peace deal should not be based on “an inflexible timeline but on all parties fulfilling their commitments, including the Taliban making good on its promises to contain terrorist groups and reduce violence against the Afghan people, and making compromises to achieve a political settlement.”
The report called on the timeline for full withdrawal from the country to be pushed back.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the Biden administration was “taking a hard look at the extent to which the Taliban are complying” with the deal before making any final determinations on troop movements.
The current drawdown has already seen the U.S. troop presence in the country reduced from 13,000 last year to 2,500 by mid-January of this year, with the rest of the troops scheduled to depart by May.
The Taliban have threatened to resume hostilities with U.S. forces if the Biden administration does not stick to the timeline established under Trump, saying that if U.S. forces remain in the country after May, “we will also kill them.”
Adam Weinstein, a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and is now a research fellow for the Middle East at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, warned that staying in Afghanistan past the established deadline could drag “U.S. troops back into a violent counterinsurgency.”
A total of 2,300 U.S. troop members have died in Afghanistan since the start of the war in October 2001.
The White House did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
Author: Michael Lee
Source: Washington Examiner: With Trump peace deal in place, no US troops have died in combat in Afghanistan for a year