Obama's Silence on Afghanistan After 2014 Is Deafening

Image: Obama's Silence on Afghanistan After 2014 Is Deafening Gen. John Allen, center, salutes before he observes Memorial Day at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 28, 2012.

Saturday, 01 Jun 2013 10:12 PM

By Todd Beamon

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President Barack Obama still won’t specify how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after next year — and it continues to frustrate both his supporters and critics.

“I’d like to see it soon,” retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, one of the president’s former commanders, told reporters on Friday, The Hill reports.

Allen, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, introduced a new report he co-authored on Afghanistan by the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

By specifying its commitment, the United States would be assuring Pakistan and the Afghan people of its presence after most NATO forces leave next year, the Hill reports.

“What is missing right now are the specifics,” Allen told the Hill. “Giving [the Afghans] the clarity of what that enduring presence looks like will give them the confidence that they need.”

Michele Flournoy, who also co-authored the Afghan report, said Obama’s decision on a post-2014 presence would refute the Taliban’s narrative that the U.S. forces are leaving.

“It sends a really strong message to the Taliban, that we’ve got a strategic partnership in place, and now we’re putting resources behind that and they’re real,” Flournoy, the former Pentagon undersecretary for policy, told the Hill. “And that will affect the Taliban perception and calculus.”

Obama has said the United States will withdraw half of the 66,000 troops in Afghanistan by early 2014, but the president has not said what the size of the force after that will be.

Last year, the president signed a long-term strategic partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that committed to a U.S. presence in Afghanistan through 2024, the Hill reports.

Specifics remain to be worked out, including the size of the U.S. force and the number of bases that will operate there, the Hill reports.

On Friday, Obama met at the White House with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying that a final NATO summit on Afghanistan would be held next year.

“Not only will we be able to underscore this final chapter in our Afghan operations, but also to paint a picture of a future whereby we’re partnering with the Afghan government on behalf of the Afghan people and on behalf of world security,” the president said.

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