Report: WH officials eye post-2014 plan for Afghanistan
Updated: 5:06 p.m. ET
As the White House eyes a 2014 timeline for ending the war in Afghanistan, top Obama administration officials are seeking to keep approximately 10,000 troops in the country in the aftermath of that drawdown, according to the Wall Street Journal.
President Obama has for some time pledged to adhere to a timeline to draw down U.S. combat in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but questions remain about post-2014 plans, and the possible implications of a dramatically decreased U.S. presence on security in the region.
According to White House press secretary Jay Carney, President Obama has not yet made a decision on the final number of troops.
"He will review options for both -- there are two -- there are two things to look at here, as we've made clear and the president made clear when he visited Afghanistan not that long ago, that we will entertain the -- a continued presence in Afghanistan that will -- that might -- that would focus, if there is a continued presence, on counter-terrorism operations and training of Afghan forces," Carney told reporters today in a White House press briefing.
He added that Mr. Obama "will evaluate proposals from the Pentagon and elsewhere on what we might negotiate with the Afghan government on a future presence in Afghanistan," after 2014, and that that presence "would be very limited in scope" and would focus on counter-terrorism operations and the training of Afghan forces.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, answering questions on the subject earlier this year, vowed that "we're not going anyplace" and that "We'll continue to work with [Afghans] on counterterrorism. We'll continue to provide training, assistance, guidance. We'll continue to provide support."
"We are making good progress," he told ABC's Jake Tapper, in an interview. "I mean, the Taliban, my view is that they have been weakened. We have not seen them able to conduct any kind of organized attack to regain any territory that they've lost. We've seen levels of violence going down. We've seen an Afghan army that is much more capable at providing security. We've seen transitions take place where we're beginning to transition. Now we're at about 50 percent of their population that's been transitioned to their control."
Still, opponents to Mr. Obama's plan argue that a weakened presence in Afghanistan will threaten U.S. gains there.
According to the Journal, the 10,000 troop figure lies in the middle of initial recommendations made by Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, whose proposal was to keep between 6,000 and 15,000 troops there following the drawdown date.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will have to authorize any U.S. plan for keeping troops in the country following that date.
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