1240 GMT December 18, 2017
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Army General John Campbell, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, has recommended the Pentagon and NATO to extend their military presence in Afghanistan by leaving thousands of their troops in the country.
Gen. Campbell, has suggested five different scenarios for the future of American troops in Afghanistan that includes keeping the US presence at or near 10,000 troops; reducing the number to 8,000; or continuing with the current withdrawal plans.
This new plans are an stark contrast to US President Barack Obama’s last year pledge that it was “time to turn the page on a decade,” and withdraw the last US soldier from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
According to Obama’s plans, the US would reduce the number of its troops from 32,000 to 9,800 by the end of 2014. In 2015, the number would be cut in half, and in 2016, all forces would be withdrawn except a vestigial force to protect the US Embassy in Kabul.
According to the WSJ report, however, the White House has so far received no formal recommendations from the Pentagon to reduce the number of American troops stationed in Afghanistan.
In total, some 13,000 foreign troops, US and NATO combined, are currently deployed in Afghanistan, most of which provide training and support to Afghan troops as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, which is also led by Gen. Campbell.
Back in March, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left open the possibility that he might ask the White House to keep more troops in the country after 2016.
In response, Obama ordered the Pentagon to freeze US troop levels in Afghanistan at 9,800 through 2015 and avoid cutting the number in half.