Great Satan US abandons Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan
President Barack Obama has announced plans to keep nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and some 5,500 in 2017, reneging on his promise to end the war there and bring home most American forces from that Asian country before he leaves office.
Obama had originally planned to withdraw almost all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. He just wanted to keep a small, embassy-based military presence in Kabul.
But the Pentagon has been arguing for months that Kabul needed additional US military presence in order to defeat a resurgent Taliban movement.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Obama described his new war plan as a “modest but meaningful” extension of the US military campaign in Afghanistan.
“Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be,” he said, explaining his decision. “Meanwhile, the Taliban has made gains particularly in rural areas and can still launch deadly attacks in cities, including Kabul.”
Obama said the United States will maintain the current American force of 9,800 through “most of 2016.”
According to US officials, Washington would also maintain a large counterterrorism capability of drones and Special Operations forces to fight militants who may be planning to launch attacks against the United States.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 14 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.
”The bottom line is that in key areas of the country, the security situation is still very fragile, and in some places there’s risk of deterioration,” Obama said.
He praised the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and hailed the Afghan troops, who have suffered most of the casualties in the fight against the Taliban.
“Every single day, Afghan forces are out there fighting and dying to protect their country,” Obama said. “They are not looking to us do it for them.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed support for Obama’s plan to slow down troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“I welcome Barack Obama’s announcement on US troops in Afghanistan. Demonstrates continued commitment,” Stoltenberg said in a tweet on Thursday.
“In the coming weeks the alliance will take key decisions on the future scope of the rest of its support mission,” Stoltenberg said. “The significant US contribution will be an important factor as we consider the way ahead.”