The president said his decision came after an extensive months-long review that included regular discussions with Afghanistans leaders, his national security team and U.S. commanders in the field. The move reflected a painful, if predictable, reality on the ground in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made gains over the last year as Afghan troops have taken over the vast majority of the fighting. Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be, Obama said Thursday morning from the White House, explaining his decision.
“Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be,” Obama said Thursday morning from the White House, explaining his decision. “Meanwhile, the Taliban has made gains particularly in rural areas and can still launch deadly attacks in cities, including Kabul.”
Obama said he will also dramatically slow the pace of the reduction of American forces and plans to maintain the current U.S. force of 9,800 through “most of 2016.” The post-2016 force would still be focused on training and advising the Afghan army, with a special emphasis on its elite counterterror forces. The United States would also maintain a significant counterterrorism capability of drones and Special Operations forces to strike al-Qaeda and other militants who may be plotting attacks against the United States.
In Afghanistan, Obama, said, a continued U.S. presence would set the country up for “lasting progress” and help ensure it doesn’t once more become a terrorist haven. Read more…