Trump Performs ‘Near Total Decapitation’ Of Pentagon Leadership As Speculation Swirls Around Afghanistan

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump has performed a “near-total decapitation” of civilian leadership within the Department of Defense this week, with speculation flying that the officials disagreed with plans for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Esper’s chief of staff, top Pentagon policy official Mark Tomb and other senior officials this week.

“Pentagon finally confirms near total decapitation of civilian leadership in the last 24 hours. Secretary of Defense Esper fired Monday, the top Pentagon Policy official, top Defense Department intelligence official, and chief of staff to the Defense Secretary all out today,” CNN’s Ryan Browne reported Monday.

A Trump administration official explained the firings to The Intercept as necessary for ending America’s longstanding military deployments in the Middle East, which Trump has termed “forever wars.” It was rumored throughout this fall that Trump planned to fire Esper after the election, though now Esper says it was his plan to resign regardless of the election outcome, according to Time Magazine. (RELATED: REPORT: Defense Secretary Mark Esper Has Drafted A Resignation Letter)

Trump’s plans to replace Esper with Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christopher Miller as well as the reported hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor as Miller’s senior adviser may indicate the president wants to ramp up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, according to Axios. Miller, a former special forces officer, served in the Iraq War and is among America’s first military heroes in the decades-long conflict.

The Trump administration announced a peace agreement with the Taliban in February, which stipulated that the U.S. would drastically reduce military deployment should the terrorist organization uphold its end of the bargain. The U.S. has seen little reduction in its military presence in the region since it was signed, however, and Esper also showed opposition to troop withdrawals in an exit interview.

Trump reportedly wants all U.S. troops in Afghanistan to be home by Christmas.

Macgregor has been an ardent advocate of ending U.S. involvement in the Middle East, appearing on Fox News to tell host Tucker Carlson the U.S. should leave Afghanistan “as soon as possible” and even remove the U.S. embassy in the country, according to Axios.

Esper and Trump had clashed publicly on a number of issues in the lead up to the November 3rd election, including the renaming of military bases currently named after Confederate military figures, as well as the deployment of active duty U.S. troops to cities experiencing unrest this summer.