US Troop Level in Afghanistan Could Drop Below 5,000

The Obama Administration is considering maintaining a force of less than 5,000 US military members in Afghanistan after combat operations cease later this year, far less than the 8,000-12,000 previously requested by US military leaders. Thanks to promisingly high voter turnout in a “surprisingly smooth election,” US officials say they now believe Afghan forces may be in a stable enough position to justify the smaller force, reported Reuters Monday. The US forces that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 would focus on counter-terrorism and training operations, reported Reuters. “The discussion is very much alive,” one US official who asked not to be identified told the news organization. “They’re looking for additional options under 10,000” troops. In the absence of a bilateral security agreement, however, the exact terms of the drawdown remain unclear. Talks are expected to resume once Afghanistan’s new President is announced. Troop numbers peaked around 100,000 in 2011. Some 33,000 US troops operate in Afghanistan today.