Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit this week to Washington marks one of the final big decision points in America’s 11-year Afghanistan war. This week’s meetings are likely to determine the final U.S. footprint in Afghanistan after 2014, when all international combat operations are slated to end. And that residual number of U.S. forces could well be zero.
Recent reports suggest that the White House is looking at troop options ranging from 3,000 to as many as 15,000 stay-behind troops. Many think that the final figure will be well under 10,000. These numbers are much diminished from proposals seriously considered even 12 to 24 months ago of a long-term presence in the range of 20,000 to 35,000 troops. The realities of shrinking budgets and crumpled public support for the war have dramatically trimmed those expectations. In recent weeks, vigorous debate has been under way inside the administration in advance of Karzai’s visit to sort out a minimalist approach that will protect long-term U.S. interests in the region, but do so with the absolute leanest outlay of dollars and troops.
For more on this story, visit: A ‘Zero Option’ for Afghanistan – By David W. Barno | Foreign Policy.