U.S. to keep 10k troops in Afghanistan in 2015

| May 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez, U.S. Air Force BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Barack Obama addresses  Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines during a surprise visit, here, Monday.

Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez, U.S. Air Force
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Barack Obama addresses Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines during a surprise visit, here, Monday.

 

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, Tuesday, announced the United States plans to keep nearly 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan next year — a level largely in line with what U.S. commanders had requested — and that nearly all U.S. forces will leave the country by the end of 2016.

“The bottom line is, it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama said.

In laying out his military plan for Afghanistan once the U.S.-led NATO mission there ends in December, Obama said keeping 9,800 American troops in the country to train Afghan forces and to support counterterrorism operations will be contingent upon Afghanistan’s next president signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S., something outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to do.

“The two final Afghan candidates in the runoff election for president have each indicated they would sign this agreement promptly after taking office, so I’m hopeful we can get this done,” Obama said, emphasizing the growing and increasing competence of the Afghan security forces, as well as the success of April’s first round of presidential elections, despite threats by the Taliban to disrupt them, as key to the timing of the announcement.

“This transition has allowed us to steadily draw down our own forces from a peak of 100,000 U.S. troops to roughly 32,000 today,” the president said. “Together with our allies and the Afghan government, we have agreed this is the year we will conclude our combat mission in Afghanistan.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he strongly supports Obama’s decision. In a statement issued after the president spoke, Hagel said the proposed U.S. troop presence “will help us sustain the significant progress we have made in training and equipping the Afghan national security forces.”

As the nation brings an end to its longest war, “all Americans are grateful for the sacrifice and service of the men and women who deployed there over the past 13 years,” the secretary said.

For months, U.S. officials have been deliberating over post-2014 U.S. troop levels and had even raised the prospect of a complete pullout of all U.S. forces if the Afghan government refused to sign the bilateral security agreement, a move that would have triggered an end to billions of dollars in foreign aid, upon which the government in Kabul relies heavily.

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Category: Armed Forces Press Service, News

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