From Associated Press: “Obama seeks to keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan after year’s end.”
President Barack Obama will seek to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the war formally ends later this year and then withdraw most of those forces by 2016, senior U.S. administration officials said Tuesday.
Obama’s decision is largely in line with what military commanders have been seeking and would allow the president to fully end the American-led military effort by the time he leaves office.
The two-year plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. While outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has declined to sign the agreement, U.S. officials are confident that either of the candidates seeking to replace him would give his approval.
The plan calls for the U.S. military to draw down from its current force of 32,000 to 9,800 by the start of next year. Those remaining troops would be throughout Afghanistan.
Over the course of next year, the number of troops would be cut in half and consolidated in the capital of Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan. Those remaining forces would largely be withdrawn by the end of 2016, with fewer than 1,000 remaining behind to staff a security office in Kabul.
The Administration is probably not bluffing that they have bribed, cajoled, and/or threatened all the possible Afghan candidates for the Presidency to be confident the winner will sign that status of forces agreement. But we can still hope and pray they are wrong and that whoever wins refuses to sign it.
It is a guarantee that our soldiers will continue to be killed for no reason.
Yes, probably fewer will die, but that will still be too many.
There is no national interest in keeping our troops in harm’s way, especially when the current president didn’t want us to remain.
As you may remember, in 2012 Obama and Biden campaigned on withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan, leading people to believe they intended a complete withdrawal. The Nobel Peace Prize winner scored points over Mitt Romney who was honest enough to say he didn’t want to make a drawdown timetable. (I didn’t agree with Romney’s plan but at least he was honest about what it was).
Which makes me highly suspicious that these same people, who are leaving almost a third of our combat troops in Afghanistan, are promising to withdraw “most” of them in 2016. A lot can happen in that time. And I’d like to know how many they think will be stationed there permanently. Back when Obama took credit in the Presidential debates for withdrawing all troops from Iraq, Romney pointed out that he had tried to leave troops in military bases but the Iraqis said no. It is likely that the Administration wants to keep troops in Afghanistan for much longer than 2016, just like they attempted in Iraq.
I’m very sorry that Afghanistan is such a mess. But we can’t fix it. We need to be clear about reprisals if they give shelter to any terrorist who attacks us but get our troops out of harm’s way.
There is no mission there. No American should have to die so that American presidents can save face.