White House Considering Removing All Troops from Afghanistan After 2014
It truly sounds as if President Barack Obama is looking for ways to tie up a lot of loose ends by the time he leaves office in 2016. And one of them is clearly Afghanistan: the White House is indicating it’s seriously considering getting all troops out of Afghanistan by 2014:
The Obama administration is considering the possibility of removing all U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission officially finishes at the end of 2014, White House officials said Tuesday.
The comments by Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, come as the Pentagon and White House mull over the number of troops that could be left in Afghanistan after 2014 to fight insurgents and train Afghan security forces.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama are scheduled to meet on Friday in Washington.
Rhodes said the administration is considering a range of options, with one scenario having no U.S. troops there. The range, according to defense officials, had until recently been between 6,000 to 15,000 U.S. troops possibly remaining in the country, based on an assessment by the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.
“We have an objective of making sure there’s no safe haven for al Qaeda within Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient, again, to assure the stability of the Afghan government and the denial of that safe haven,” Rhodes said.
“That’s what causes us to look for different potential troop numbers or not having potential troops in the country,” he continued.
Rhodes said there were no expectations on any deal on post-2014 troop levels during the Karzai visit, and he said it could be months before any decision was made.
The White House remains committed to ensuring Afghanistan does not return to its status as a safe haven for Al Qaeda, Rhodes said.
Reports such as this will give more fuel to neocons who want to nix Obama’s nomination of former Senate Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.