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Top Marine reveals chaos inside the Pentagon over Trump's Syria and Afghanistan pullout orders

10 Jun 2019 Daily Mail Online

Top commanders and Pentagon officials have few details about President Donald Trump's orders to pull U.S. forces out of Syria and Afghanistan, leaving them unable to answer questions from the troops as they conduct holiday goodwill tours.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller were in Afghanistan for a holiday visit and were unable to answer soldiers' questions about the next steps. 

There are no timelines or orders detailing the president's directive.

I don't think anybody really knows exactly what's going to happen,' Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller (pictured) told Marines in Afghanistan of Trump's order to withdraw troops

Top commanders are unable to answer troops' questions about President Donald Trump's withdrawal orders as they conduct holiday goodwill tours to places like Afghanistan

One Marine asked Neller what the president's order meant for those on deployment, The Wall Street Journal noted.

'That's a really good question,' Neller replied. 'And the honest answer is I have no idea.' 

'I don't think anybody really knows exactly what's going to happen,' he told a group of Marines. 'I've read the same stuff in the newspaper you did, I have a little more knowledge than that, but not a whole lot more.'  

Last week Trump ordered the pull out of 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria and for the Pentagon to draw up plans for approximately 7,000 troops to exit Afghanistan - about half of the U.S. forces stationed there. 

Besides a tweet storm to defend his decisions, then have been no other details released to the public.   


Spencer told The Journal he had received no order from the White House or Pentagon on drawing down troops.

'Nothing formal, just tweets,' he said but added he might be in the dark because he's been on the road for three days.  

The head of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Miller, hadn't been issued orders about the drawdown either, the paper reported. 

U.S. forces are part of a coalition of NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) is joined by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer (2nd L) at the Army-Navy college football game earlier this month

Maj. Richard Bates, the Marine contingent's officer in charge, said the only information they have on the troop drawdown has come from media reports.

'It was a surprise, but I'm sure it was a surprise for the guys who withdrew from OIF,' he said referring to the abrupt announcement by then-President Barack Obama in 2011 that most U.S. troops would leave Iraq and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Bates told the Journal Defense Secretary James Mattis' resignation was a bigger deal to him, as Mattis, a retired Marine general, is held in high esteem by U.S. armed forces.

'His resignation is more devastating than the troop drawdown,' Bates said. 'It's going to be hard to fill those shoes.' 

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