WASHINGTON- The Obama administration is considering dropping the number of troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to far fewer than 10,000, which is the minimum Pentagon officials say they need to train Afghan forces.
A U.S. official confirmed to Fox News Monday that a range of options fewer than 10,000 troops are being considered but nothing has been decided. Reports say that as few as 5,000 troops is one of the options being discussed in talks between officials from the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department on how many troops should remain in the country after the U.S. withdrawal later this year. Military officials have said they believe a minimum of 10,000 troops is needed in Afghanistan to train and support the Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.
The top American commander in Afghanistan Gen. Joe Dunford told lawmakers in March a force smaller than 10,000 troops would have trouble defending itself. Dunford said that without the support of foreign troops the Afghanistan military’s capabilities would begin to deteriorate “fairly quickly.” There are now about 33,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000. So far, Afghan President Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement that would allow for a small U.S. peace-keeping force to remain in Afghanistan past 2014. However, the leading candidates in the election to replace him, the results of which will likely not be known for several weeks, have indicated they will sign it.