'US Will Not Unilaterally Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan', Acting US Defence Secretary Says

Patrick Shanahan also warned that the public is not fully aware of the opposing threats.

On the second day of defence ministers' meetings at NATO, Patrick Shanahan led his first press conference (Picture: NATO TV).

The acting US defence secretary has announced that the US will not “unilaterally” pull troops out of Afghanistan and warned that the public 'is not aware' of opposing threats during his first NATO press conference.

Patrick Shanahan has been in Brussels attending the defence ministers' meetings for the first time.

Mr Shanahan assured that any withdrawal from Afghanistan would be coordinated but now might be the time for peace:

“There will be no unilateral troop reduction, it will be coordinated." 

He also said the military phase of the mission is complete but the next phase will be very critical: “President Trump said this should be an opportunity for peace.”

Mr Shanahan said he talked to allies on how to "double down" to put even more pressure on the Taliban, but added allies still need to do more:

“What I hear from President Trump is that collectively we need to do more.

“The difficulty that we have is that there isn’t alignment with the public on the difficulty of the threat.

“The public is not aware of the evolving threat.”

He referenced a growing threat from Russia and China.

He also said the threat extends into cyberspace.