After Mark Esper left the Pentagon, President Trump has a clear path to bring home nearly half of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan facing the conflicts in the Middle East. “He [Trump] would be the first president since at least Reagan not to start a major new war, and he would be the president who got us out of the longest war in America,” William Ruger, future ambassador to Afghanistan, said on Monday, Nov. 16.

According to Breitbart reports after interviewing Ruger, President Trump’s possible future ambassador to Afghanistan, the Trump administration is expected to issue a formal order in the coming days to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 people by Jan. 15, the lowest number of forces there since the early 2000s.

Currently, about 4,500 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan, and according to the goals set by President Trump, that number would be reduced by almost half. If so, the president would be very close to fulfilling his promise to bring American troops back. 

According to information obtained by Breitbart, something similar would happen in Iraq, where American troops number approximately 3,000 and would be reduced to at least 2,500.

Former Defense chief Mark Esper, recently dismissed from his post, was reluctant to comply with the measures promoted by President Trump to reduce troops in the Middle East, aiming to end a stage of the war and move to a final stage, more focused on the strategic than on physical presence. 

The new U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller, in his first words, said in a report to the state agency staff on Friday, that “all wars must end,” and that it is time to modify strategies and move on to the next stage after having made sufficient progress in achieving objectives in the war against Al-Qaeda. 

In his official statement, he sent a nonconfrontational message, emphasizing that for wars to end, a real commitment is required. And on the war in the Middle East, Miller said, “We overcame the challenge; we gave it our all. Now it’s time to go home.”

His comment did not mean that the United States would not remain committed to the cause; on the contrary, he assured that it would finish the work begun in the war that “Al-Qaeda brought to our shores in 2001,” referring to the Sept. 11 attack, only from another perspective, taking into account all the progress made so far. 

Ruger, who currently holds a position in the Navy, argued that the United States has achieved its goals in Afghanistan, “We have accomplished what we wanted to in Afghanistan, and we did that a long time ago. Killing bin Laden, really punishing the Taliban for their state sponsorship of Al-Qaeda, and really quite decimating al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

Ruger sought to make clear that the United States does not need a large military presence there to prevent another 9/11. He also said the United States has tools—diplomacy, foreign assistance, counterterrorism capabilities from outside Afghanistan—to influence whether Al-Qaeda gains ground again inside Afghanistan. 

“We should be hitting Al-Qaeda wherever it is. It doesn’t require us to have forces on the ground to do so. We don’t need to occupy every country where there could be an AQ threat.”

Miller was clear in his message and it is in line with the wishes of President Trump, who on the campaign trail mentioned that he would like to bring back the soldiers who are in the Middle East to the United States.

“We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” President Trump said on his Twitter account on Oct. 8.