US Considers Total Afghan Withdrawal
'Zero option' after 2014 raised before Karzai talks
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2013 4:29 AM CST
Updated Jan 9, 2013 7:59 AM CST
There are currently 68,000 US troops on the ground in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi, File)

(Newser) – How many US troops should stay in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends next year? For the first time, officials are now saying zero is an option. Commanders recommend keeping a force of up to 15,000 in the country, but Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, speaking to reporters ahead of Hamid Karzai's meeting with President Obama later this week, says withdrawing all troops will be considered if conditions allow, Reuters reports.

As recently as a year ago, officials were talking about leaving a 30,000-strong force to combat al-Qaeda, but now officials are considering as few as 2,500, the Washington Post reports. What's more, the troops will be pulled out faster than previously deemed prudent, officials tell the LA Times; General John Allen had asked to keep most of his 66,000 troops for this summer's fighting season, but now the consensus is that troop levels will dip significantly lower than that. The US will demand legal immunity for any troops it does wind up leaving behind, the denial of which led to the complete withdrawal from Iraq.

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Jan 10, 2013 12:23 PM CST
the debate over this issue is bs, we'll leave a hell of a lot more Blackwater/Xe mercenaries over there than there ever were of soldiers. Anyone who's paying any attention knows that all the real fighting is done by overpaid contractors because they got that sweet deal on total immunity from war-crimes prosecution. Bring the troops home, leave the troops there, who cares? The actual military troops are only a small fraction of the real forces we have over there. The army of mercenaries will be there for a thousand years anyway no matter what the troops do; the suffering is just beginning for Afghanistan.
Jan 10, 2013 7:56 AM CST
Zero troops should stay in Afghanistan. Why would we leave 15,000 soldiers there to be murdered, one by one, every day? Fk that sh*t! The Afghan army doesn't even want to go out on patrol in their own country alone unless our guys go out in front. The commanders that recommend keeping a force of 15,000 in the country should be punched dead in their faces and made to bleed!
Jan 10, 2013 6:07 AM CST
I suspect that this story may well have been released on the eve of Karzai's visit in order to make him $hit himself and start behaving instead of complaining all the time. He knows dam well that without allied forces protecting his sorry corrupt a$$, he will be assassinated within an hour of the last troops leaving. This is really a no-win situation. We all know that the insurgents (of all flavors) now in Pakistan will flow right back into the Afghanistan with no foreign troops there. And then what, the puppet government will be overthrown, sharia will be reintroduced, and the country will revert back to what it was before we all tried to liberate them. They will go back to plotting the downfall of the western world. All a great pity when most real Afghanis just want to live in peace. And you can call me.................Mr Joshua