According to Reuters, Obama administration officials have said that the troop count in Afghanistan could “drop well below 10,000,” a number which has been the America’s requested minimum in order to train security forces.
The decision to consider a small force, possibly less than 5,000 U.S. troops, reflects a belief among White House officials that Afghan security forces have evolved into a robust enough force to contain a still-potent Taliban-led insurgency. The small U.S. force that would remain could focus on counter-terrorism or training operations.
The coalition forces still in the country still have no plans to stay past the end of 2014, when the current security agreement expires. U.S. and Afghan negotiators have been engaged (or, some might say, stalled) in months-long talks over signing a new Bilateral Security Agreement, but there is no indication of when or if that will come about.
The relative lack of disruption surrounding Afghanistan’s presidential elections earlier this month has bolstered confidence in Afghan security forces’ ability to handle and contain the Taliban insurgency.