WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is set to announce on Thursday that he will slow plans to draw down US troops from Afghanistan and instead keep the current force of 9,800 through most of 2016 before beginning to trim levels, senior administration officials said.
Obama had aimed to withdraw all but a small US-embassy based force at Kabul before leaving office in January 2017. Under the new plan, troops will be drawn down to 5,500 starting sometime in 2017 and based at four locations – Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar.
The decision comes after months of deliberations between Obama, Afghan leaders, Pentagon officials, commanders in the field and White House advisers about how best to continue to support Afghan forces, senior US administration officials said.
“Those have been broad discussions, deep discussions, ones that have included the president’s personal engagement and a number of very detailed questions from the president about our posture,” an official said.