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On Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that the Obama administration would come to a decision within the next few weeks about the magnitude of the US "enduring presence" in Afghanistan. Panetta said that the White House was currently reviewing several recommendations for troop levels from General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. These options take into account the different roles US troops would play in Afghanistan after 2014. According to the New York Times,

The number, Mr. Panetta said, will be based on how many forces are needed for counterterrorism — that is, in commando raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden — as well as for training and providing air transport and other support to the Afghan security forces.
Panetta would not comment on the troop levels being considered. However, last August, the press began reporting that the Pentagon was pushing for a 25,000 troop enduring presence. That number is still being floated. Responding to these reports last month, Marc Grossman, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that the 25,000 troops figure is "speculative" and that a number has yet to be decided upon. Grossman did not, however, deny that the Pentagon is pushing for the 25,000 troops. A 15,000 troop figure has also been floated around in the press.

It is worth noting that there were only 34,000 troops in Afghanistan when Obama took office. If 25,000 troops were kept in Afghanistan after 2014, that would mean that the net withdrawal would be a mere 9,000 troops. Furthermore, before 2008, troop levels were at roughly 25,000 or less. So leaving 25,000 troops in Afghanistan would be to merely return to 2007 troop levels. Leaving 15,000 troops would be a return to 2004-2005 troop levels.

The decision about post-2014 troop numbers will not include a timetable for the removal of US troops over the next two years, according to CNN. There are  about 68,000 US troops left in Afghanistan. There is no plan currently in place for their withdrawal.

The decision about troop levels is also unlikely to include an end date for what is already the US's longest war. The Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the US and Afghanistan earlier this year suggests a US troop presence until at least 2024.

No matter what decision the White House makes, plans for a post-2014 US troop presence in Afghanistan will not be finalized until the US and Afghanistan complete negotiations on a bilateral security agreement, which will cover issues such as immunity for US troops. The immunity issue was a stumbling block for the Obama administration's attempts to negotiate an enduring US troop presence in Iraq last year.

Meanwhile, tensions are heightened between US troops and the Afghan people. At least 60 US-coalition troops have been killed by Afghan security forces so far this year. US troop atrocities have also been on the rise, with Koran burnings, desecration of corpses, and a massacre of civilians all within the last year.

To date, 2,062 US troops have died in Afghanistan, 1,487 of which have perished in the four years since President Obama took office.

To learn more about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, visit our Countdown to Drawdown.

Poll

Do you support leaving 15,000 or more US troops in Afghanistan indefinitely?

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100%6 votes

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Comment Preferences

  •  Too little attention is paid to this, so thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, Megan Iorio

    for your diary, which I hope gets lots of attention.

    If 25,000 troops were kept in Afghanistan after 2014, that would mean that the net withdrawal would be a mere 9,000 troops.

    Furthermore, before 2008, troop levels were at roughly 25,000 or less.

    So leaving 25,000 troops in Afghanistan would be to merely return to 2007 troop levels.

    Leaving 15,000 troops would be a return to 2004-2005 troop levels.

    Considering that when this president took office, the troop level that I read was only 32,700 and last year was it was 101,000, and no one "in command" seems to be using the word withdrawal, as much as the words, "troop strength", it isn't sounding so promising yet to get our troops out, is it?

    Along with 68000 of our troops still in harm's way in Afghanistan, last count for private contractors there, (which might even be higher now) was over 113,000.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

    by allenjo on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:04:55 AM PST

  •  It’s time to end this war in Afghanistan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Megan Iorio
    and bring our sons and daughters home.  it’s about time we do whole lot less nation-building abroad, and a whole lot more nation-building at home.
    Senator Jeff Merkley

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

    by allenjo on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:09:58 AM PST

  •  "The Endless War" indeed. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt
    When President Obama announced his plan for a drawdown from Afghanistan this past June, he failed to mention when, exactly, a full withdrawal would be completed.

    The President never said that all US troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

    What he did say was that the "combat" mission would end at the close of 2014, after which the US mission in Afghanistan would become a "support" mission. But he never said how many troops would be left in Afghanistan as part of this so-called "support" mission. Nor did he say when these troops would be withdrawn.

    If the Pentagon gets its way, 25,000 US troops may be left in Afghanistan from 2015 until at least 2024.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

    by allenjo on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:13:16 AM PST

    •  Thanks for posting that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allenjo

      Until now, I had missed the fact that "this past June" is a bit outdated!

      •  What we all need to remember is that (0+ / 0-)

        during the last debate, when Obama was asked if conditions on the ground were still as bad as now there, or similar words, meaning conditions based, would he still withdraw troops, and that the president did not answer that question.

        At some point, some definite answers must come.

        In our 12th year of war, 12th year!

        Such insanity and a country remains mostly silent, living on hope - for what? a miracle, it would seem.

        "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

        by allenjo on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:37:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  the continued US presence in Afghanistan...... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt
    The "support" mission will not necessarily be small, nor will it be free of combat missions. A "support" mission sure sounds more reassuring than a combat mission, right? Sounds like only a few troops will remain behind to support the Afghan security forces?

    Not if Iraq is any example. The combat mission in Iraq ended in August 2010, at which point troop levels were brought down to 50,000. In October 2011, over a year later, there were still about 45,000 troops left in Iraq. Furthermore, these supposedly non-combat troops would engage in combat missions and were described as having a "combat capacity" by administration officials, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in which they engage in "targeted counterterrorism operations" and work and fight alongside Iraqi security forces. In light of this, "support" seems to be nothing more than a euphemism for extended combat.

    In fact, reports are indicating that the US presence in Afghanistan will consist of a "slimmed-down counterinsurgency strategy" that would help protect the Afghan population--as well as hunt down Taliban insurgents and al-Qaeda members. There may also be forces dedicated to holding territory won by the US in recent years. In any case, it seems quite clear that the continued US presence in Afghanistan will look nothing like the US presence in, say, Germany.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

    by allenjo on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:20:49 AM PST

  •  A "Bilateral Security Agreement?" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Megan Iorio

    The US is under attack and the Afghanis come to our rescue?

    It's as if the rare earth deposits were easily accessible or something.

    Maybe one day the Fourth Estate will take their jobs seriously. Or not..

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 12:14:28 PM PST

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