Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

Obama Wants to Keep Troops in Afghanistan After 2014

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Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. commands the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Obama indicated this weekend he intends to keep troops there past 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama is fond of saying the war in Afghanistan will “end” this year, but he still plans to keep troops in the country indefinitely.

During his surprise four-hour visit to Afghanistan this weekend — under cover of darkness and with no prior notice and no visit with outgoing President Hamid Karzai — Obama suggested he’d still like to keep troops in that country.

“I’ve made it clear that we’re prepared to continue cooperating with our Afghan partners on two security missions — training and equipping Afghan forces and targeting … al Qaeda,” Obama told the troops.

“Once Afghanistan has sworn in its new president, I’m hopeful we’ll sign a bilateral security agreement that lets us move forward. And with that bilateral security agreement, assuming it is signed, we can plan for a limited military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Because after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win.  And we’re going to make sure that Afghanistan can never again, ever, be used again to launch an attack against our country.”

Separately, Obama noted that he has to “make some decisions” about post-2014.

But he sounds like his mind has been made up — except, perhaps, for just how many troops to keep.

“We’ll probably be announcing some decisions fairly shortly,” he said. “But it’s important for me to make sure that I check in directly with folks face-to-face before those decisions were finally made.”

Obama’s comments were backed up by an administration official in a background briefing, although the official reiterated that if Afghanistan does not sign the agreement, no troops would remain. And the administration made sure reporters knew that both contending presidential candidates in Afghanistan plan to sign a security agreement with the United States — something Karzai has refused to do.

That makes a follow-on force all but a fait accompli barring a change of heart by the new president. And it will mean a different result than in Iraq, where a decision by that country’s leadership not to sign a security agreement led to a pullout of U.S. military forces.

Keeping troops in Afghanistan will mean at some point that Obama will have to come to Congress at least for funding. That’s not likely to be be particularly difficult, although in recent weeks some lawmakers have called for revisiting the broad use of force authorization that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Related:

Delay in Afghan Pact Roils War Plan, Defense Budget

Logistics of Afghan Drawdown Prove Challenging

  • http://www.northamptonseed.com H. Douglas Walker

    This is a huge mistake by the President. From what I can tell the population of Afghanistan does not want us there. They see us as nothing more than English speaking Russians occupying their country. The sooner we leave and allow the country to manage on its own the better it will be for both countries.

  • petergard

    One problem is that the US will not (and probably should not) hand over some of the kinds of technology that are useful in combating terrorism (e.g. spy satellites, drones, etc.). Afghanistan still wants these and will therefore need Americans to support this as well as issues for training. An irony here is that for these very same reasons, Iraq is now considering inviting the American military to come back in there as well.

  • pitch1934

    No, No, a thousand times no!

  • barbarakelly

    Did anyone expect otherwise from the bugger. It is time for him to go along with his cronies. He talks like he cares wit hour military, what a bunch of BS. Yesterday he did the unthinkable for our DD vets, he slashes benefits from $300 to lousy $6 a month. there are not many left alive from that day. Where does that money go instead. What a hypocrite. IT IS TIME FOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN TO COME HOME. THEN HE CAN SEND THE FOREIGN TROOPS BACK TO THEIR COUNTRIES. BECAUSE believe me they are here. Just waiting for something to happen. Then they will control us. He has a agenda hidden from us to spring on us at a later date. Some disaster is coming our way .Then guess who will have control. NOT US. Then he will slip Marshall law on us. I’m an X army brat and what my father told me is now happening. He wants us to fall from with-in. Don’t let anyone foul you.!!!!

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