US troops to stay in Afghanistan in pol­icy shift

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has con­firmed plans to ex­tend the US mil­i­tary pres­ence in Afghanistan be­yond 2016, in a shift in pol­icy.

Speak­ing at the White House, he said the US would keep 5,500 troops in the coun­try when he leaves of­fice in 2017.

Orig­i­nally all but a small em­bassy-based force were due to leave by the end of next year.

But the US mil­i­tary says more troops will be needed to help Afghan forces counter a grow­ing Tal­iban threat.

There are cur­rently 9,800 US troops sta­tioned in Afghanistan. Last week, the top US mil­i­tary com­man­der in Afghanistan, Gen John Camp­bell, said the US must con­sider ex­tend­ing its mil­i­tary pres­ence there be­yond 2016.

The US forces will be sta­tioned in four lo­ca­tions - in Kabul, Ba­gram, Jalal­abad and Kan­da­har.

Pres­i­dent Obama had pre­vi­ously planned to re­duce the num­ber of troops left in Afghanistan to about 1,000 by the time he left of­fice in Jan­uary 2017.

A state­ment from the US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil said the change in pol­icy was the “re­sult of an ex­ten­sive, months-long re­view”, and af­ter Mr Obama had con­sulted “with his full na­tional se­cu­rity team and our Afghan part­ners”.

“This an­nounce­ment in no way changes the fact that our com­bat mis­sion in Afghanistan has ended, and we will con­tinue to un­der­take only two nar­row mis­sions: coun­tert­er­ror­ism and train­ing, ad­vis­ing, and as­sist­ing our Afghan part­ners,” the state­ment went on.

More troops are needed, of­fi­cials say, to counter a grow­ing Tal­iban threat

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