US Posture in Afghanistan Won’t Change in 2015

At the request of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, President Obama announced Tuesday the US would maintain its current posture of 9,800 troops in the country through 2015. “The specific trajectory of the 2016 drawdown will be established later this year to enable our final consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016,” said Obama during a joint press conference with Ghani at the White House. Obama emphasized the overall withdrawal timeline has not changed, nor has the transition out of a combat role. He noted that four years ago, the United States had more than 100,000 troops serving in Afghanistan, but today there are less than 10,000. “We’re essentially moving the drawdown pace over to the right for several months in part to compensate for the lengthy period it took for government formation, and in part because we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help the Afghan security forces succeed so we don’t have to go back,” said Obama. Ghani paid tribute to the thousands of American men and women killed or wounded during the last 13 years of war. “You stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us and I’d like to say thank you,” said Ghani. He added, “The 2,215 Americans that have died, must not die in vain. They must leave behind a legacy of a stable Afghanistan,” which he said the flexible drawdown schedule will help secure. (US-Afghanistan joint statement) (See also Slow the Withdrawal and Make it Stick)