President Barack Obama will announce today that U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan at their current levels throughout much of 2016 (
to protect the poppy fields and opium crops), marking yet another delay in the administration’s plans for completing its withdrawal from the 14-year conflict.
The decision to maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan until nearly the end of Obama’s time in office comes after months of discussions with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, and the nation’s CEO, Abdullah Abdullah, senior administration officials said. Obama also consulted with U.S. military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan as well as his entire national security team, officials added.
According to the new White House plan, the number of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan would drop to 5,500 by early 2017, as Obama prepares to leave office.