The decision has not been made yet, but it is being talked about, as reported on Sunday, March 15, the Associated Press citing its sources. The same information, citing its sources, is distributed by Reuters.
According to the AP, in the next year, only 9,800 American servicemen will remain in the country. The same number of servicemen is in Afghanistan at the moment, but the Pentagon has previously promised to reduce it by almost half by the end of the year – down to 5500 people. The decision to keep the same number of servicemen for now, as media speculates, is related to a request from the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. A new schedule for the withdrawal of troops is expected to be revealed at the end of March, during the planned visit of the Afghan leader to the United States.
The AP specified that a number of American politicians, and in particular, Senator John McCain, stand for the preservation of military forces. National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, on the other hand, insists on sticking to the previous timetable for the withdrawal of troops.
In November of 2014, the Parliament of Afghanistan by an absolute majority adopted a resolution which called on the United States and the NATO to send up to 12 thousand troops to the country to support the local army. Kabul hopes that such amount of military forces would ward off the offensive of “Taliban.”
For Obama it is politically disadvantageous to keep the same number of servicemen, and even less so to increase it. In his election campaign, he promised to end the long war and by the end of his presidential term (2016) to completely withdraw American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. In this regard, the media do not exclude a compromise solution – a symbolic withdrawal of US military from the country this year, but a small number.
The new US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter said after a recent visit to Kabul that the emergence of promising prospects (in the opposition to Taliban movement) is a solid reason to slow down the withdrawal of army units.