Obama Decides to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama announced Thursday at the White House that he will keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and a lesser number into 2017. Obama stated that his decision is supposed to sustain coalition efforts to train and strengthen Afghan forces.

Joining Obama at the podium were Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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As part of a four-step plan that he said would best ensure lasting progress in Afghanistan, Obama said he would maintain the current posture of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016.

Rather than reduce troop levels to a normal embassy presence in Kabul by the end of 2016, Obama said the United States will maintain 5,500 troops and a small number of bases, including at Bagram and Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south.

The mission in Afghanistan will not change, the president said.

Photo courtesy: White House

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Rakesh Raman