The U.S. military sent a B-52 bomber to the Middle East on Saturday, just days after the Trump administration announced a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The U.S. Central Command said U.S. Air Force B-52H “Stratofortress” flight crews completed the mission “at short notice” to “deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies.”
“The ability to quickly move forces into, out of and around the theater to seize, maintain, and exploit the initiative is key to detering potential aggression,” said Lieutenant General Greg Guillot, 9th Air Force Commander.
“These missions help bomber crews become familiar with the region̵
WORKING US DEFENSE SECRETARY CHIEF PROMISES ‘STALWART AND FINISHED ALLYES’ UK TO INCREASE MILITARY EXPENDITURE
President Trump’s new acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on Tuesday announced a downsizing of troops to 2,500 in Afghanistan and 2,500 in Iraq by January 15 next year. There are about 4,500 troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq right now.
“In the face of these enormous sacrifices and with great humility and gratitude to those who came before us, I formally announce that we will carry out President Trump’s orders to continue our repositioning of forces from these two countries,” Miller said Tuesday.
“This is in line with our established plans and strategic goals, supported by the American people, and does not correspond to a change in policy or goals.”
US TO DRAW NEDTROOP IN AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ OF JAN. 15, PENTAGON SIER
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday to attend what could be his final round of talks with the Taliban and the Afghan government on a peace deal.
Violence in Afghanistan rose sharply this year, with eight people killed just hours before peace talks were due to begin on Saturday when mortar hit a residential area in Kabul.
It is unclear where the B-52H bombs went in the Middle East on Saturday, but they left Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
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Minot Air Force Base is the only base in the United States that houses both intercontinental ballistic missiles in underground silos as well as a fleet of bombers that are also capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
It marks the first B-52 mission to the Middle East in several months. In January, after the US military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike, six B-52 bombers were sent to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.