(WASHINGTON) — The Obama administration is still considering how many American troops will remain in Afghanistan when the coalition pulls out the majority of forces next year.
While that’s going on, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon has an exact number in mind: 13,600, about a fifth of the U.S. soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan.
Following a fact-finding mission overseas, the California Republican says his figure is in line with what Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, the outgoing head of the U.S. Central Command in the region, is recommending.
McKeon contends 13,600, which is probably much higher than the White House is considering, “has the least danger of failure and puts our troops in the least jeopardy.”
As the administration hammers out a status of forces agreement with Kabul, McKeon wants the president to announce how many troops he wants to leave behind in Afghanistan well before the 2014 pullout.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN