Obama Ditches Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan

More than 5K will remain when he leaves office
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2015 6:00 AM CDT
Updated Oct 15, 2015 6:48 AM CDT
US Marines patrol the Nawa district, Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(Newser) – President Obama is scrapping a big goal of his presidency—to leave office with only a token force of troops in Afghanistan. Instead, in what the Wall Street Journal calls a "major reversal," Obama has decided to scrap the current withdrawal plan. About 10,000 US troops are in the country now, and the original plan was to gradually reduce that number through 2016, until about 1,000 were left at the US Embassy in the country by early 2017. Under the new plan, no reduction will take place through most of next year, and a force of 5,500 will still be in place when Obama leaves the White House. He's expected to formally make the announcement Thursday morning.

"Obama appears to be acknowledging that Afghan security forces are still not near ready to hold off the Taliban on their own," observes the New York Times. Remaining troops were supposed to be stationed only in Kabul, but now they'll be scattered elsewhere around the country as well, including in Jalalabad, Kandahar, and the Bagram Airfield. The cost will be $14.6 billion a year, about $5 billion higher than the original embassy-only plan, reports NBC News. For context, the network notes that the US had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan as recently as 2010. Administration officials say the review has been underway for months, but headlines about Taliban gains in cities such as Kunduz surely didn't help. (Read more Afghanistan war stories.)

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