Zero US troops in Afghanistan possible by 2015

by Daniel DeFraia,  |  published on January 11, 2013

Ahead of meetings to negotiate a new framework for US involvement in Afghanistan between President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a White House official floated the idea of withdrawing all US troops by 2015.

“That would be an option that we would consider,” said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, when asked during a conference call with reporters if a zero troop level was an option, according to the Associated Press.

Publicizing this scenario might be a tactic to give the US leverage in the upcoming negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reported. (The Washington Post also agrees on this point.)

However, “The U.S. does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan,” Rhodes said. “We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient to ensure the stability of the Afghan government.”

Gen. John Allen recently sent Defense Secretary Leon Panetta three other scenarios that would require between 6,000 and 20,000 US troops to stay in Afghanistan, according to the Christian Science Monitor. There are currently about 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

Former commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, told the Wall Street Journal some US troop presence in country, after US and NATO allies withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014, would have benefits.

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