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.
SOURCE: CNN, Al Jazeera | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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