Christopher Miller, director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 24, 2020.
Tom Williams via Reuters
WASHINGTON – In his first message to the US armed forces, incumbent Pentagon chief Chris Miller said he was "war weary" and that it was time to end American conflicts in the Middle East.
On Monday, Miller rose to the role of acting Secretary of Defense for the Pentagon following the sudden resignation of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper by President Donald Trump.
"Indeed this struggle has been long, our casualties have been enormous and many are tired of the war – I am one of them – but this is the critical phase where we are moving our efforts from leadership to support," said Miller wrote a message to Department of Defense officials early Saturday morning.
"We are not a people of perpetual war – it is the opposite of everything we stand for, what our ancestors fought for. All wars must end," he added, writing that the US "is on the verge of al Qaeda and his to defeat Associated. "
"We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now it's time to come home," wrote Miller.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt.James Bates pulls security at a landing zone as his team loads a tactical vehicle into the hold of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Farah province, Afghanistan, Sept. 26.
Staff Sgt Jonathan Lovelady | US. air force
The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost US taxpayers more than $ 1.57 trillion since September 11, 2001, according to a Department of Defense report. The war in Afghanistan, which has become America's longest running conflict, began 19 years ago and cost US taxpayers $ 193 billion, according to the Pentagon.
Trump, who campaigned to end "ridiculous endless wars" in the Middle East in 2016, went on Twitter last month to announce that the American forces currently serving in Afghanistan will be home by Christmas.
At the time, it was unclear whether Trump tweeted an order or reiterated a long-standing election promise to address voters ahead of the US presidential election.
Earlier this year, the United States signed a peace agreement with the Taliban that would initiate a permanent ceasefire and reduce the US military's footprint from about 13,000 to 8,600 by mid-July. And by May 2021, all foreign forces would leave the war-torn country.
Trump previously directed the Pentagon to reduce US forces in conflict areas.
In 2018, Trump tweeted that the United States would withdraw troops from Syria, a move that sent a shock wave through the Pentagon and contributed in part to the resignation of then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. Trump later overturned his decision to withdraw from Syria.
In May, Trump complained on Twitter that America's role in Afghanistan had been reduced to a "police force" rather than a "combat force".
When asked about the tweet from reporters during an event at the White House, Trump said the US could return to Afghanistan if necessary.
"We can always go back if we have to. If we have to go back, we will go back and romp again," Trump said in May.