• Defense Secretary Mark Esper wants to shift the U.S. focus away from counterrorism operations
  • Some 225,000 U.S. troops already are deployed in Europe and Asia
  • Trump campaigned on ending America's "endless wars," but the current discussion centers on moving troops, not bringing them home

The Pentagon reportedly is weighing a decision on removing U.S. troops from West Africa in the first phase of a global redeployment to focus priorities on Russia and China.

The New York Times reported the discussions, which have excluded Congress, include abandoning a $110 million drone base in Niger and leaving French forces to fight militants without U.S. assistance in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. A decision is expected in January.

“We’ve begun a review process where I’m looking at every theater, understanding what the requirements are that we set out for, making sure we’re as efficient as possible with our forces,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who wants to move the U.S. away from counterterrorism deployments, told reporters earlier this month.

“And my ambition is, remains, to look at how do we – how do we pull resources out of – resources being troops and equipment and you name it – and either do one of two things – either return it to the United States and make sure that they have enough time to refit, to maintain their – get their readiness up, et cetera, or shift them to the Indo-Pacific.”

President Trump campaigned on the promise to end America’s “endless wars,” and as recently as October reaffirmed that position in justifying his decision to move U.S. advisers out of northern Syria, giving Turkey the opportunity to move in and rout Kurdish fighters, who had been instrumental in defeating the Islamic State group.

But the current discussion reportedly centers on moving troops around, not bringing them home. Some 225.000 U.S. troops are stationed in Europe and Asia, not including the Middle East. The biggest contingent is in Japan (63,435), followed by Germany (46,900) and South Korea (29,048).

The Times, quoting people familiar with the discussions, reported that following the Africa review, Latin America will be examined.