Millennium Post

More US troops than planned to stay in Afghanistan in 2015

More US troops than planned to stay in Afghanistan in 2015
At a news conference at the presidential palace with President Ashraf Ghani, Hagel said the original plan to cut US troop levels to 9,800 by the end of this year had been abandoned, but not because of a recent surge in Taliban attacks.

Hagel said the US will keep up to 10,800 troops for the first few months of next year and then restart the drawdown, which is scheduled to reach 5,500 troops by the end of 2015. The US decided to keep additional forces in the country temporarily because planned troop commitments by US allies for a Nato train-and-assist mission starting in January have been slow to materialise.

President Barack Obama “has provided US military commanders the flexibility to manage any temporary force shortfall that we might experience for a few months as we allow for coalition troops to arrive in theater,” he said. “But the president’s authorization will not change our troops’ missions, or the long-term timeline for our drawdown,” he added. On his final visit to Afghanistan as US defence secretary, Hagel said with striking optimism that he believes Afghans will successfully put down a surge in Taliban attacks in the capital and stabilize the nation.

Hagel arrived in Kabul on a previously unannounced trip one day after Obama declared he would nominate one of Hagel’s former deputies, Ashton Carter, to succeed Hagel, who resigned under pressure November 24.

The Taliban, which had ruled Afghanistan since 1996, were forced from power in late 2001 just weeks after a US-led invasion prompted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


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