Plan to cut troop numbers by 2016 unchanged: White House
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): While the pace of drawing down troops has been slowed down, there is no change in the plan to reduce the military footprint in Afghanistan at the Embassy level by the end of 2016, the White House said on Thursday.
“What the (US) president determined is that he lengthened the timeline for military personnel to remain in Afghanistan through this year,” the White House press secretary.
Josh Earnest explained Obama’s intention had been unchanged to draw down the forces by the end of 2016 to protect the embassy and maintain the military-to-military relationship.
He told reporters the change in policy did not affect that endpoint and that was important for the people to understand, given sort of the long trajectory of the drawdown.
“It was only a few years ago that we had more than 100,000 US military personnel in Afghanistan. We're down to about 10,000. We will remain at that level of about 10,000 through the end of this year.
“But by the end of 2016, we’ll be down to about 1,000 troops, again, just to defend the embassy and to fulfill this security cooperation relationship,” Earnest said.
The decision on a drawdown of troops from 10,000 to 1,000 would be taken in consultation with the US military commanders on the ground.
“There will also be conversations with the Afghan government. We are partners with them, and we will continue to be partners with them even after the end of 2016,” Earnest concluded.
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