President Obama is slowing the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan, leaving 8,400 troops there into next year, he announced Wednesday. Originally he had planned to drop troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of 2016. The numbers reflect a compromise between Obama's original plan and what many military commanders had recommended given a Taliban resurgence, reports the AP. Obama says the security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious and that Afghan security forces are not as strong as they need to be.
Last month a group of more than a dozen former US ambassadors and former commanders of US forces in Afghanistan wrote to Obama urging that he sustain the current level of troops through the remainder of his term in office, per the AP. "Unless emergency conditions require consideration of a modest increase, we would strongly favor a freeze at the level of roughly 10,000 US troops through January 30," they wrote in a June 1 letter. "This approach would allow your successor to assess for herself or himself and make further adjustments accordingly." (Read more Afghanistan stories.)