Obama to decide on enduring US Afghan presence
WASHINGTON (PAN): US President Barack Obama would take a decision on the recommendation of General John Allen, top US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, on the presence of American troops after 2014 soon after the security transition is completed, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
“The first order of business is to establish what the enduring presence beyond 2014 might be and General Allen has passed his recommendations to the Secretary. We expect within relatively short period of time to arrive at a final conclusion, which of course is a presidential decision,” the Pentagon spokesman, George Little told reporters during an off camera news conference.
Except for the fact that it includes what would be “enduring US presence in Afghanistan,” Little did not say when Gen Allen submitted his report and what were its key recommendations including the possible number of US troops after 2014. However, The New York Times said the recommendations include keeping 6,000 to 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan after 2014. Little refused to comment on the numbers.
“We look forward to President (Hamid) Karzai visit Washington sometime next week. This (recommendations) is something that we would be discussing closely with him. Whatever that number is for post 2014 enduring presence, the decision would be taken in close consultations with our Afghan allies,” he said. “We hope to be able to reach the decision soon. Again this is a decision that would be made on the US side by the President,” Little said.
“The real focus (of the report) is on enduring presence post 2014,” he said, adding that the drawdown is also going to be the subject of discussions as well.
“There are a range of issues beyond specific numbers which is drawing lot of attention in this town. We are working through a bilateral security agreement with the Afghans overtime. We continue to fight the war, let’s not forget that and we continue to build the capabilities of the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces,” he said.
“Whatever the numbers are reached, we are committed to the security of Afghanistan,” Little said in response to a question.
Quoting unnamed defense officials, The New York Times said Allen’s recommendations did not include options for the pace of withdrawals of the remaining 66,000 troops. At the same time, US officials say Allen wants to keep a large majority — perhaps as many as 60,000 — through the fighting season next fall, the daily reported.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.