Vice President Joe Biden is pushing for almost all U.S. troops to be out of Afghanistan by the end of the year, despite recommendations from military officers, officials said.
Biden has previously been unsuccessful in his push for a small force — possibly between 2,000 to 3,000 troops — but increasing frustration with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is helping the proposal gain momentum.
But some Defense officials told The Wall Street Journal that removing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan — known as the “zero option” — would make more sense than Biden’s smaller figure, which they believe would be ineffective. Those officials prefer that the United States keep between 9,000 to 12,000 troops in the country.
Advocates for a larger force presence after 2014 are worried that offering such a small number of troops would make it harder to reach a bilateral security agreement. U.S. officials and Western allies are frustrated with Karzai for refusing to sign a bilateral agreement with the United States until after the country’s elections later this year.
But an administration official pushed back saying that Biden hasn’t recommended — or rejected — any specific troop level.