“Reversing policy on Afghanistan, President Barack Obama announced on Thursday he will prolong the 14-year-old U.S. military engagement there, effectively handing off the task of pulling out troops to his successor,” Reuters reports.
“Obama said Afghan forces were not yet as strong as they needed to be given a ‘very fragile’ security situation and the United States will maintain a force of 9,800 through most of 2016. Obama had previously aimed to withdraw all but a small U.S.-embassy based force in the capital, Kabul, before he leaves office in January 2017. Under the new plan, troops will be drawn down to 5,500 starting sometime in 2017 and will be based at four locations – Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar.”
“In his remarks on Thursday, he focused on the rationale for delaying a complete withdrawal, telling Americans that he did not support the idea of ‘endless war’ but arguing Afghanistan’s stability is vital to U.S. security. Troops would remain out of combat roles, focused on training and advising Afghan forces, and ensuring that any al Qaeda remnants do not threaten U.S. security.”