The U.S. announced plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to about 2,500 by mid-January, prompting both domestic and international concern that the move could degrade the Afghan government’s ability to fend off Taliban advances. Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins says the reduction could narrow diplomatic and military options for the incoming Biden administration and undercut peace talks by bolstering the Taliban’s confidence that they have the upper hand.