Gen. John Allen has submitted three options to the Pentagon for how to maintain a presence in Afghanistan after the 2014 military withdrawal, defense officials tell the New York Times:
- 6,000 troops, highest risk of failure: At this level, the US mission would focus on counterterrorism. Special Ops commandos would root out insurgents, but there would be little training of or support for the Afghan security forces.
- 10,000 troops, medium risk of failure: At this level, training of Afghan forces would be broadened. (The White House recently expressed support for this level.)
- 20,000 troops, lowest risk of failure: At this level, there would also be some conventional US forces on patrol in strategic areas.
President Obama and Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai are expected to discuss the options during Karzai's White House visit next week. Obama will also need to consider the pace of the withdrawals; he is said to want a more rapid pace than Allen, who wants most of the current 66,000 troops to remain in the country through next fall's fighting season. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)