Report: Thousands of troops could remain in Afghanistan after 2014

Marines rush a wounded colleague, who was shot during an exchange of fire with insurgents in Afghanistan, to a waiting medevac helicopter in 2011. Marines rush a wounded colleague, who was shot during an exchange of fire with insurgents in Afghanistan, to a waiting medevac helicopter in 2011. Kevin Frayer/AP file photo
American and NATO officials are exploring several options for how to craft the U.S. and allied presence in Afghanistan after the 2014 handoff to Afghan security forces, including one option that would leave 10,000 U.S. troops in the country, The New York Times reports.

While this and several other options have been proposed, final decisions over the size of American and allied forces have not been made, The Times reported.

Another plan calls for a small counterterrorism force of less than 1,000 U.S. troops, The Times reported.

Leading this planning effort is Marine Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander of Afghan operations. He is expected to submit his recommendations to President Obama in coming months regarding the drawdown of the 66,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan.

The White House has not yet released any information about drawdown proposals, saying only that forces are likely to be coming home at a steady pace over the next year.

“The White House has not yet asked General Allen for his assessment, nor have we begun considering any specific recommendations for troop numbers in 2013 and 2014,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told The Times. “What is true is that in June 2011 the president made clear that our forces would continue to come home at a steady pace as we transition to an Afghan lead for security. That it still the case.”

Following the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq, the U.S. kept no combat troops in the country, a situation that critics of the administration have blamed for recent instability.
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