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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

Trump defies Congress, vetoes $740 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Al Drago via Getty

President Trump defied Congress on Wednesday, vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Why it matters: The House and Senate passed the $740 billion defense spending bill with veto-proof majorities, setting up a potential override fight.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

The Supreme Court's abortion showdown arrives

Protesters gather at the Supreme Court during arguments about the Texas abortion law Nov. 1. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will debate today whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, and neither side is trying to lower the stakes — or to make today’s case anything less than a referendum on Roe’s very survival.

The big picture: Conventional wisdom, on both the left and right, says the court is likely to chip away at abortion rights without overturning its precedents outright. But neither side has spent much time trying to help the justices thread that needle.

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