US to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan

Barack Obama will keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan through 2015, after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani requested flexibility in the troops drawdown plan.

The US president was planning to cut the number of troops from the current 9,800 to 5,000 by the end of the year, withdrawing completely by the end of 2016. There are also 3,000 troops from other NATO countries.

“The specific trajectory of the 2016 US troop drawdown will be established later in 2015 to enable the US troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016,” the White House statement said.

Obama explained that the date of the final drawdown of US forces — the end of 2016 — remained unchanged, and that the delay of a few months “during this fighting season” was “well worth it” in terms of preparing Afghan security forces for effective operations.

Afghanistan would remain a dangerous place until Afghan security forces are able to maintain security in the country on their own, Obama said. With the departure of US and Coalition troops, those forces have “stepped up” and discovered that “when they fight, they can be successful.”

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