On Thursday, President Trump announced that the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan — which peaked at 100,000 under the Obama administration but has since been reduced to under 8,600 during the Trump administration — should be home by Christmas.
Trump touted the news on Twitter, saying, "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!"
The withdrawal is the immediate result of a historic agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan struck in February in which the U.S. offered to withdraw all troops from the country by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban.
The president has been outspoken during his presidency about the need to end America's "endless wars," and has taken major steps to withdraw U.S. troops from areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
The total military withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a major achievement for the president. Though it should be noted that Trump's tweet appears to be at odds with a statement made hours earlier by his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, who said that the number of troops would be reduced to 2,500 by the new year.
The end of a nearly 20-year war
It was 19 years ago in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that American troops were first deployed to Afghanistan to root out and combat the terrorists responsible.
According to a startling report from Stars and Stripes that puts the length of the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan in perspective, some of those same troops have watched as their sons and daughters deployed to the same fight.
"When we started this, people asked why I was going, and my response was, 'So my sons don't have to fight this war,'" Master Sgt. Trevor deBoer told the military news outlet this week. deBoer has been deployed to Afghanistan three times with the 20th Special Forces Group since 2002, the outlet reported.
Despite his wishes, nearly two decades later, his son, Specialist Payton Sluss, was deployed to Afghanistan to fight on the same ground.
"My feet were walking the same land you were," Sluss reportedly told his father in a joint phone interview, referring to Forward Operating Base Fenty, near the city of Jalalabad.
Michael Kreuger, a former Army sergeant, fought in Pech Valley in 2010. Eight years later, his son Trenton was deployed to Afghanistan to serve in the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, just like his father.
Kreuger told Stars and Stripes recently that he just hopes his grandson won't also be deployed to Afghanistan to fight the same battles "for the same reason."
The Mavalwallas, a father and son who share the first name, Bajun, had the unique experiencing of serving together in Afghanistan at the same time and even met up in 2012 while serving.
The Mavalwallas are not alone, either. Fox News reported last year about Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Kirby and his son, Specialist Kyle Kirby, who were deployed together in February 2019 to join more than 150 other soldiers serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Spartan Shield.
"This is my 5th deployment, it's his first, we're fortunate to be in the same unit now, so I know mom's pretty excited about that," Michael Kirby said at the time.