An Afghan border forces soldier stands guard at a U.S. forces base, which has been handed over to Afghan border forces in Dih Bala district of Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, inj July. Photo: Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via Getty Images

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday the U.S. would cut its number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early 2021, per Reuters.

Details: "When President Trump took office, there were over 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan," O’Brien said at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, event. "As of today there are under 5,000 and that will go to 2,500 by early next year."

Of note: Trump contradicted O'Brien later on Wednesday, tweeting, "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!"

  • The president did not elaborate.

The big picture: The U.S. struck a deal with the Taliban in February to begin a gradual drawdown of American troops from the country.

  • U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan under the peace agreement the following month.
  • The Trump administration did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Harris, Pence clash over Trump's comments about military service members

Sen. Kamala Harris tore into President Trump at the vice presidential debate on Wednesday over his public comments and alleged private comments disparaging military service members.

Why it matters: Last month's report in The Atlantic alleging that Trump called service members "suckers and losers" sparked massive backlash. The president has vigorously denied all aspects of the report.

Halloween and COVID-19: What you need to know

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Celebrating Halloween and Día de los Muertos will be difficult and more isolated this year, but can still be done while minimizing harm to others.

Why it matters: Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, indoor parties, haunted houses, crowded cemeteries and communal candy bowls are all considered high-risk activities by the CDC.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations.
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for 2nd straight day
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!