Afghanistan: US to delay troop pullout

Afghan Prime Minister Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Washington has borne fruit in the form of an agreement to delay the military pullout from Afghanistan, in spite of promises to cease all troop presence before the end of his second term, fulfilling a campaign promise. Both premiers made a joint press conference announcing the decision, in stark contrast to the strained relations between Hamid Karzai and President Obama during his first term.

The current deal allows for intelligence and contractor bases operating drone airfields for airstrikes to remain open and operational, which apparently was one of Ghani’s primary requests to President Obama and the Joint Chiefs. According to an anonymous American official, the intelligence community sees around 10,000 troops as a key baseline to keep counterterrorism operations progressing. The newly revised “mission” of the American troop presence of 10,000 soldiers is now defined as assisting Afghan National Army training exercises and counterterrorism.

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