Obama Wants All U.S. Troops Out of Afghanistan by 2017

President Obama wants to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan next year, then shrink to a ‘normal embassy presence’ by 2017.

US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry walk in line behind a designated mine-detecting device operator at Naja-bien village, notorious for IED caused injuries and deaths, in Panjwai district during a morning operation to find and destroy bomb traps made from IED's on September 23, 2012.
National Journal
Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
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Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
May 27, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

Amer­ica’s longest war just got a little longer. Pres­id­ent Barack Obama will an­nounce that he would like to keep 9,800 troops in Afgh­anistan to con­tin­ue fight­ing past the planned 2014 end of the war — and those troops would all leave by the end of 2016, ac­cord­ing to a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial.

The of­fi­cial said the pres­id­ent will make the an­nounce­ment in the Rose Garden on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. “He will an­nounce that our com­bat mis­sion will be over by the end of 2014. He will make clear that we are open to con­tin­ued ef­forts in Afgh­anistan on two nar­row mis­sions after 2014: train­ing Afghan Forces and sup­port­ing [coun­terter­ror­ism] op­er­a­tions against the rem­nants of al Qaeda,” a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said. “We will only sus­tain a mil­it­ary pres­ence after 2014 if the Afghan gov­ern­ment signs the Bi­lat­er­al Se­cur­ity Agree­ment.”

Both of the lead­ing can­did­ates to suc­ceed Afghan Pres­id­ent Ham­id Kar­zai have said they would sign the agree­ment that would gov­ern Amer­ic­an forces serving in Afgh­anistan past this year. A run­off is planned, and could take weeks or months to com­plete. “As­sum­ing a BSA is signed, at the be­gin­ning of 2015, we will have 9,800 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, to­geth­er with our NATO al­lies and oth­er part­ners. By the end of 2015, we would re­duce that pres­ence by roughly half, con­sol­id­at­ing U.S. troops in Ka­bul and on Ba­gram Air­field. And one year later, by the end of 2016, we will draw down to a nor­mal Em­bassy pres­ence with a se­cur­ity as­sist­ance of­fice in Ka­bul, as we have done in Ir­aq,” the seni­or of­fi­cial said.

Obama made a sur­prise vis­it to Afgh­anistan over Me­mori­al Day week­end but did not meet with Kar­zai. Obama told the troops at Ba­gram Air Base that they had been suc­cess­ful in their mis­sion dur­ing the past 13 years of war in Afgh­anistan.

“With that bi­lat­er­al se­cur­ity agree­ment, as­sum­ing it is signed, we can plan for a lim­ited mil­it­ary pres­ence in Afgh­anistan bey­ond 2014. Be­cause after all the sac­ri­fices we’ve made, we want to pre­serve the gains that you have helped to win. And we’re go­ing to make sure that Afgh­anistan can nev­er again, ever, be used again to launch an at­tack against our coun­try,” Obama said.

There are cur­rently about 30,000 U.S. troops in Afgh­anistan, mostly ad­vising and as­sist­ing the Afghan se­cur­ity forces. The post-2014 force of 9,800 U.S. troops would be in ad­di­tion to a smal­ler num­ber of NATO troops

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