Military leaders are advising the administration to keep either 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 or none, senior officials said.
"The proposal is 10,000 or basically nothing, a pullout," an official told The New York Times. Fewer troops, officials warn, would be unable to protect personnel remaining in Afghanistan.
But the Pentagon's suggestion is a contrast to the number of troops — possibly 2,000 to 3,000 — that The Wall Street Journal reported Vice President Joe Biden is urging. A senior administration official denied that report, saying the vice president has neither recommended nor rejected a specific troop number.
Administration officials wouldn't confirm a separate Wall Street Journal report that under the Pentagon's plan, all troops would be out of the country by the end of President Obama's term.
A bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan would keep troops in the country until 2024. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pushed signing the agreement until after the country's elections later this year.
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said, "The president has not yet made decisions about final troop numbers."