Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan: US Withdrawal Halted

Published: October 16, 2015

Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan: US Withdrawal Halted, President Obama halted the withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan on Thursday, announcing that the United States will keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017 and indefinitely prolonging the American role in a war that has already lasted 14 years.

In a brief statement from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, Mr. Obama said he continued to oppose the idea of “endless war.” But the president, who once traveled to Afghanistan to declare “the light of a new day on the horizon,” said Thursday that a longer-term American presence there was vital to the security of the United States and a country that is beset by the Taliban, their allies from Al Qaeda, and militants from the Islamic State.

The decision, reached after what White House officials called an “extensive, lengthy review,” ensures that Mr. Obama will leave office in 15 months without making good on a seminal promise of his presidency: to responsibly end the military involvements started by his predecessor, George W. Bush, and withdraw all American troops from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the president has succeeded in vastly reducing the American military presence in both countries, the United States has returned a modest force to Iraq to help Baghdad in its fight against the Islamic State. And with Thursday’s announcement, Mr. Obama leaves a commitment of thousands of troops – and the decision about how and when to end the war in Afghanistan – to his successor.

The current American force in Afghanistan of 9,800 troops will remain in place through most of 2016 under the administration’s revised plans, before dropping to about 5,500 at the end of next year or in early 2017, Mr. Obama said. He called it a “modest but meaningful expansion of our presence” in that country.

The president said he was not disappointed by a decision that clouds what he had said in 2012 was “a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan.” Mr. Obama said Thursday that the administration had always understood the potential for adjustments in troop levels even as the military sought to withdraw troops from battle.


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