In an effort to give Afghanistan time to form a stable government, President Obama on Tuesday said U.S. troops will keep its current level of 9,800 troops in the war-torn country through the end of the year, rather than reducing that number to 5,500 as planned, CNN reports.
The announcement came during a visit to the White House by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who attended a series of meetings, notes the report.
Ghani has requested that the U.S. consider adjusting its troop withdrawal timeline, with greater support from U.S. troops over the next few years during a transition to a complete withdrawal. “The timeline for a withdrawal down to a embassy center presence, a normalization of our presence in Afghanistan, remains the end of 2016,” Obama said in a joint press conference with Ghani on Tuesday afternoon. “So that hasn’t changed. Our transition out of a combat role has not changed. We’re essentially moving the drawdown pace over to the right by several months in part to compensate for the lengthy … government formation; in part because we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help Afghan security forces succeed; so we don’t have to go back,” Obama said Tuesday.
Military families expressed frustration with the decision, Al Jazeera reports:
“We figured that [Afghan President] Ashraf Ghani coming to the White House – and him being very public about wanting continued US military help – was a sign they’ll make a deal and continue our troop presence throughout 2015,” Pat Alviso, the mother of a US marine who was left half-deaf after five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera.
“We’re disturbed and worried. It’s like a downward spiral for us with these endless wars.”
In addition to the 9,800 U.S. troops providing training and support in Afghanistan, about 3,000 troops from other NATO countries are deployed.