When President Barack Obama spoke about Afghanistan at the White House at West Point this week, four words were noticeably absent: “conditions on the ground.”
The president announced plans to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through 2015, provided the next Afghan president signs the bilateral security deal, then to halve that number in 2016. By 2017, the only troops remaining will be part of a “normal embassy presence.” The decision has the blessing of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, but critics say the decision should be based on conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, not Washington.
…“I was encouraged to see roughly 10,000 US troops remaining, and this will encourage other coalition members to add the needed 5,000 or so additional trainers,” said retired Adm. James Stavridis, who served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander from 2009 to 2013. “I hope that further reductions will be condition-based and not conducted on a pre-determined timeline, as there is still important work to be done supporting the more than 350,000 Afghan National Security Forces, who today are defeating the Taliban insurgency.”
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