US President Barack Obama has decided to have 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2015 if the new president agreed to sign the bilateral security agreement.
The US would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016. Obama is expected to make an announcement in this regard on Tuesday afternoon, a senior administration official said.
“We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement,” the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to speak to the press before the crucial announcement.
“Both Afghan presidential candidates recently reiterated their intentions to sign the agreement quickly, if elected. Assuming a BSA is signed, at the beginning of 2015, we will have 9,800 service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners,” the official said.
Obama is also expected to announce America’s combat mission will be over by the end of 2014. He will make clear the US is open to continued efforts in Afghanistan on two narrow missions: training Afghan forces and supporting operations against the remnants of Al Qaeda.
“By the end of 2015, we would reduce that presence by roughly half, consolidating US troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. And one year later, by the end of 2016, we will draw down to a normal embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul,” he concluded.