US Mulls Leaving No Residual Force Behind in Afghanistan
(WASHINGTON) — No U.S. troops left in Afghanistan after 2014? It’s a possibility.
A scenario similar to what occurred in Iraq is a consideration as the White House mulls its plan for post-war Afghanistan, 13 years after troops were first sent there to dismantle al-Qaeda training camps and remove the Taliban from power.
In the case of Iraq, the Obama administration refused to go along with demands from Baghdad that American soldiers could no longer have immunity from prosecution once security responsibilities were transferred fully to national forces.
When asked what the president has in mind for Afghanistan, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said on Tuesday that leaving no residual force was an option but that “we are not guided by the goal of a certain number of troops in the country.”
Obama is concerned about a resurgent al Qaeda once U.S. and NATO forces pull up stakes, so the talk at present is to possibly leave as many as 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 major withdrawal. Currently, there are about 66,000 American soldiers in the country.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet with both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C., on Friday, at which time a preliminary decision about how many American forces to hold over could be made.
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