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October 25, 2014

Obama Plans to Keep Troops in Afghanistan Until 2016 (Updated) (Video)

Updated 3:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he intends to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but would pull out most of the remaining forces by the end of 2016.

Obama said he plans to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan at the start of 2015, provided the next president of Afghanistan signs a new security agreement, as expected. The troop levels would be cut roughly in half by the end of 2015, with troops consolidated to Bagram Airfield.

“When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm’s way,” Obama said. “By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000.”

Obama said the troops staying in Afghanistan would no longer be responsible for combat missions to secure the country, but would continue to target terrorists and train and advise the Afghans.

One top Republican senator on military issues was quick to say that Obama’s plan “emboldens the enemy.”

By the end of 2016, “we will draw down to a normal embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul, as we have done in Iraq,” according to a senior official.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., blasted the news in a series of tweets ahead of the official announcement.

“Announcing that all US forces will be out after 2016 emboldens the enemy,” Graham said, comparing Afghanistan to Iraq. Graham also accused Obama of taking steps that result in “losing” wars.

“President Obama is repeating some of the same mistakes he made in Iraq,” Graham said. “Doing the same thing he did in Iraq and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”

But in the Rose Garden Tuesday, Obama said it’s time to “turn the page” on more than a decade of war — although troops will be in Afghanistan potentially in harm’s way for closer to 15 years — including all eight years of Obama’s presidency.

It’s still not clear what would happen if the Taliban were able to overrun the country while U.S. troops are stationed there — although the Taliban is considered the Afghans’ responsibility.

Nor did Obama mention that his timing would be adjusted based on conditions on the ground.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., applauded the president’s strategy. “It rightly places the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security with the Afghan government and security forces, while maintaining our ability to aggressively defend against terrorism,” he said in a statement.

Obama said over the weekend at his surprise trip to Afghanistan that he wanted to keep troops in that country past 2015, while maintaining that the “war” will be over this year.

There will still be fighting by U.S. soldiers, however, with Americans tasked with targeting al-Qaida.

Obama will need Congressional support to continue funding troops in Afghanistan. That isn’t likely to be a problem, although some lawmakers have recently expressed a desire to revisit the use of military force authorization passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Related:

Delay in Afghan Pact Roils War Plan, Defense Budget

Logistics of Afghan Drawdown Prove Challenging

  • Jack Everett

    This is standard empire building. America never leaves any country it occupies.

    • Layla

      Really, Jack? What are we doing in Vietnam?

      • Jack Everett

        lol you lost Vietnam. The occupation will continue in Europe and any other country we decide to call our puppet.

  • makaainanastyle

    First Senator Graham does not tweet, he is a tweet.
    Second Obama is locked into the same old “Perpetual war for perpetual peace”.
    Or
    Its the economy stupid its the economy.

    • Robin Cohen

      Obama or Graham. Hard to tell which one is dumber. Let them and John McCain move to Afghanistan and pay out of their own pockets to fund the damn war.

      • Jack Everett

        But it was ok for Bush to create unfunded wars for corporate profits right?

        • Robin Cohen

          ABSLUTELY NOT! Both Bush & Cheney should be rotting in jail.

          • Jack Everett

            If you look at a little of American real history you will find America does not leave a country once it occupies it. The exceptions are Iran, Philippines and Venezuela. The American empire is starting to crumble you may not see it yet but it’s happening and will be complete if the public does not wakeup and stop it.

          • Robin Cohen

            Democracies don’t have empires. It’s a contradiction in terms. We should never have had one and, if we did, let it crumble. It’s inappropriate.

  • pappadave

    I’m sure the Taliban appreciates the heads up. What a maroon!

  • denner OP4444

    Traders Superstore and figure out how to exchange and after that move to South East Asia and carry on with a life that you never envisioned you could live. That is the thing that I am doing now and extremely cheerful as opposed to being in fear all the time and pushed.

  • Bruno’s Beach

    In related news, here are the US deaths in Afghanistan, by year:Bush2001: 52002: 302003: 312004: 492005: 942006: 872007: 1112008: 151Total = 558Obama2009: 3032010: 4972011: 4942012: 2942013: 115Total = 1,703Ref: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/dennis-m-crowley/12-year-war-73-us-casualties-afghanistan-obamas-watch

    • Jack Everett

      Obama did not pull troops out of Afghanistan to steal a sea of oil in Iraq.

    • Robin Cohen

      A very sad total waste of lives.

  • Three Friends

    In this video we find vodka-enthusiast Joe Biden droning on about the Obama regime’s success in Iraq: http://youtu.be/rcOv-AbHlCk?t=17s

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