ACCORDING to US media reports President Obama will announce on Thursday October 15 that he will keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016.
The announcement will be a reversal of President Obama’s original plans to remove all US troops from Afghanistan other than the small number required to protect the American embassy in Kabul.
The US is expected to keep 9,800 troops there this year with 5,500 in the country by the end of 2016. The American military mission in Afghanistan was supposed to be at a number of 1,000 troops by the end of 2016.
The 5,500 troops will be based in Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar. The main missions to be undertaken will be non-combat and focusing on counter terrorism and the training of Afghan security forces.
US officials have said in recent weeks that the situation on the ground in Afghanistan has changed since the President’s original plans for troops which were announced two years ago.
“The narrative that we’re leaving Afghanistan is self-defeating,” US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday. “We’re not, we can’t and to do so would not be to take advantage of the success we’ve had to date.”
The decision to keep the military in Afghanistan means that the new US president in 2016 will be the third to administer America’s involvement in the war.