President Obama has just let known that he plans to leave 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan through the end of his final term as US Commander-In-Chief. This admission, of course, falls a little short of the promise to greatly reduce our presence there; a cornerstone of his initial pledge to pull our troops out of foreign ground wars.
You may recall that, in 2014, Obama announced he would cut the current troop count—or 10,000 at the time—to only 5,500 troops by the end of this year. However, he had to redact this idea when Taliban fighters overran Afghan troops, resulting in the launch of attacks on both civilian and NATO-coalition military targets. Indeed, increasing presence of Taliban insurgence over the last year continues to expose the glaring weaknesses in the Afghan military’s ability to defend its people. As such, US special operations troops still man the ground along with Afghan forces while Air Force pilots and drones monitor and provide air support.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” the President said from within the White House’s Roosevelt Room. “Even as they improve, Afghan security forces are still not as strong as they need to be.”
Still, this is a precautionary measure and President Obama continues to promise that the role of US troops in the region is to focus more on training and advising new Afghan troops, emphasizing the continued shrinking of US military footprints.
He vows: “The narrow missions assigned to our forces will not change. They remain focused on supporting Afghan forces and going after terrorists, But maintaining our forces at this specific level, based on our assessment of the security conditions and the strength of Afghan forces, will allow us to continue to provide tailored support to help Afghan forces continue to improve.”
Furthermore, Obama notes, “Even as we’ve maintained a relentless case against those who are threatening us, we are no longer engaged in a major ground war in Afghanistan,” adding also, “Afghanistan is not a perfect place. Given the enormous challenges they face, the Afghan people will need the partnership of the world —led by the United States — for many years to come.”
On Thursday, this week, Obama is expected to leave Washington for a summit in Poland. He will meet with fellow NATO leaders in an effort to reassess the strategies in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East.