US general offers 3 options for post-2014 military presence in Afghanistan


The United States could keep between 6,000 and 15,000 troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 NATO withdrawal from the country, an American news channel reported in the light of options proposed by top US Commander in Afghanistan.
Citing American officials the CNN said US commander Gen. John R. Allen has submitted three options to Pentagon. The plans have been created with input from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s office, the Joint Staff, the US Central Command, and the White House – would give President Barack Obama options based on what he is looking to do in Afghanistan. The plans are awaiting official approval from Panetta.
Meanwhile, The New York Times, quoting unnamed US officials, reported each of the three plans contains with it a risk factor An option of 6,000 troops would probably pose a higher risk of failure for the American effort in Afghanistan, 10,000 would be medium risk and 20,000 would be lower risk, a US official said, according to a report in the newspaper.
Explaining the options, a CNN account said the low-end option calls for 6,000 to 6,500 troops that would be strictly for counterterrorism operations: hunting down Taliban and al Qaeda members and cells still operating around the country. This plan would require mostly Special Operations Forces, with a limited number of support troops and only a very small amount of training assistance for Afghan forces. The mid-range option, involving around 10,000 troops, would still have the main focus on counterterrorism operations, but it would have a bigger training footprint for Afghan forces, with most of the focus on Special Operations troops and a limited amount of conventional troop training. While the 15,000-troop option would bring in a greater number of conventional troops for training Afghan Security Forces, as well as a bigger support element in addition to the counterterrorism forces.
American defense officials say planning for the post-2014 troop presence is still not complete, but it is very close. Currently, the US has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan. The US expects next week’s visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to involve conversations discussing these options. A senior Defense official told CNN the United States is expecting the Afghan government to allow legal protections for US troops who remain in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends in 2014.
According to the channel, the Iraqi government refusal to extend legal protections for US troops after the end of the war in Iraq was a major reason the United States left the country with no residual military training force.