The U.S. is reportedly considering a plan to leave as many as 10,000 troops in Afghanistan “beyond the end of 2016,” the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The paper reports that the option was one of five that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, offered the Pentagon and NATO officials in Brussels. From the WSJ:
The recommendations reflect growing concerns among military officers that current force reduction plans could raise the risk of mission failure in Afghanistan to what one senior military official said would be an “unacceptable level.”
The reporting comes just months after President Obama announced that, “based on [Afghan] President Ghani’s request for flexibility,” there would be no troop draw-down in 2015. As Common Dreams reported at the time:
Under the guise of a transfer of power, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s and U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday new “flexibility” in the U.S. military’s drawdown plan in Afghanistan, scrapping previous pledges made to reduce troop levels by the end of the year.
During the joint address, Obama said that none of the 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn in 2015—despite his initial pledge to reduce troop levels to 5,500 during that time.
“It means some folks are going to be rotating back into Afghanistan for a few extra months,” Obama said during the press briefing.
While U.S. troops would no longer be serving a “combat” role, Obama said that they will continue to train, advise and assist Afghan Security Forces, as well as maintain targeted counterterrorism operations, or drone strikes, in that country.
During the remarks, the U.S. president maintained that the trajectory for complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is the end of 2016. However, the Bilateral Security Agreement, signed by Ghani in September, locked in another ten years of U.S. military presence.
Writing in 2014, when Obama authorized the extension of the war in Afghanistan, noted commentator and writer Jim Hightower charged: “‘Operation Enduring Freedom,'” as the government originally dubbed this mess of a military mission, should be renamed ‘Operation Endless War.'”
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