(WASHINGTON) — Any decision about how soon U.S. troops can come home from Afghanistan won’t be made until after the November elections.
Gen. John Allen, who commands U.S. and NATO forces in the country, won’t have recommendations until later this year to give to President Obama.
Naturally, his proposals would still be made if a Republican defeats Obama in the general election.
Allen told the House Armed Service Committee on Tuesday, “Before the end of 2012 I intend to provide, through my chain of command, to the president a series of recommendations on the kind of combat power that I will need for 2013 and 2014.”
The current goal is to reduce U.S. troop levels down to about 67,000 by the end of this summer from its height of 100,000 last year. The White House has agreed with the Afghan government to have virtually all U.S. boots out of the country by sometime in 2014.
Recent developments in Afghanistan that include the slayings of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly at the hands of an American Army sergeant have led to President Hamid Karzai calling for an accelerated withdrawal.
However, Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have insisted on staying the course to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda as well as stopping the return of the Taliban.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Angela Dewan, CNN
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN