President Obama announced in March of 2014 that he would reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan to 9,800 by the end of last year. He also said that by the end of 2015, the number would be reduced to 5,000. Now, he's about to change his mind.
As reported by Fox News, Obama is expected to announce as soon as Tuesday that the number of contingency troops left in Afghanistan will be “modified” in an effort to help the new government fight the Taliban and other insurgent groups:
The White House acknowledged Friday that [New Afghan President Ashraf ] Ghani and Obama have talked about the issue three times in the past four months and that U.S. military officials have presented some recommendations to Obama’s team, based on Ghani’s concerns.
Jeff Eggers, the National Security Council’s senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that he expects Obama will make a statement on the issue Tuesday, after meeting in Washington with Ghani.
“But no decisions have been made yet,” he told reporters.
Fox also reported:
U.S. officials in recent weeks and months have said the Obama administration is indeed set to abandon plans to draw down to 5,500 troops by year's end, bowing to military leaders' requests.
While no final decision on numbers has been made, the U.S is expected to allow many of the American troops to remain well into 2016.
Perhaps Obama learned a valuable lesson in Iraq. Against the advice of his generals, he withdrew all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 (a campaign promise), following a failure to secure a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government. The consequences of that decision are now clear:
ISIS has taken over nearly one third of the country, Obama has reintroduced airstrikes and a growing number of troops, and the threat from ISIS continues to grow throughout the region.
And, just this past weekend, it was reported that ISIS has hacked the personal information of U.S. military personnel - including addresses - and threatens to “behead them in their homes.”
The president would be well-advised to heed the advice of his military this time, along with that of the newly-elected president of Afghanistan. He appears to be poised to do just that.