The U.S. military has made the recommendation to President Obama to maintain 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the withdrawal at the end of 2014. If 10,000 do not remain, the recommendation is to leave no troops there at all. The recommendation comes from Gen. Joseph Dunford, who is a top commander in Afghanistan.
Stars and Stripes reported, “The intelligence community, the State Department and military leaders believe that that’s about the right number to do the sorts of things we believe need to be done after 2014,” a U.S. government official familiar with the discussions told Stars and Stripes, speaking on the condition of anonymity.”
“Dunford said a troop presence smaller than 10,000 would not provide adequate protection for U.S. bases in Afghanistan, the official said. And according to the Wall Street Journal, officials with intelligence agencies and the State Department reportedly told the White House an adequate number of U.S. troops is needed to protect their missions as well.”
“The proposal is 10,000 or basically nothing, a pullout,” an official familiar with internal administration deliberations told The New York Times.”
If 10,000 troops do remain, the number will fall to almost zero by 2017 when President Obama leaves office.
There has been some skepticism as to the all or nothing reason behind 10,000 troops or none at all, especially from Vice President Joe Biden. The White House maintains that they have not made a final decision on troop numbers yet.
Stars and Stripes continued, “The President has not yet made decisions about final troop numbers and I’m not going to discuss the details of our ongoing deliberations,” NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an email. “We will be weighing inputs from our military commanders, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats, and development experts as we make decisions about our post-2014 presence in Afghanistan.”
There are about 37,500 American troops in Afghanistan right now, but that number will fall to 32,000 by next month.
Stars and Stripes reported, “The administration said last year it was planning to keep between 8,000 and 12,000 U.S. and NATO troops in the country to train, advise and assist Afghan troops, as well as to conduct counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida. But the future presence of Western troops there was thrown into doubt in November when Afghan president Hamid Karzai refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States.”